(NARRAGANSETT, R.I.) — A beach in Rhode Island was expected to reopen on Sunday after an apparent explosion injured a woman and forced the beach to be evacuated.
Several beachgoers said they smelled gas after the explosion on Salty Brine beach in Narragansett on Saturday morning, though a spokesman for National Grid, which manages gas and electric in the area, said there are no gas lines along the beach.
The woman injured had been sitting in a chair up against breakwater at the tide line when the sand erupted, officials said.
The woman was taken to a local hospital. Her condition was not immediately released.
Officials have not said what caused the explosion, but stressed Saturday that there was no indication of a device or malicious intent.
“This could be natural. It could be man-made,” said Kurt Blanchard, the acting chief of the Rhode Island Environmental Police.
Dave Dean, a local radio host who was on the beach at the time, said he first heard a low rumbling sound.
“I thought it was a small tremor or something,” he said. “I didn’t think anything of it and I started hearing people start yelling ‘Call 911′ because a lady got hurt in the incident. I saw a lady on the ground, and after about 20 minutes, they asked us to get off the beach.”
Dean described the result as looking like a sinkhole.
“If you had dug a hole and put some sand over it that’s what it looked like,” he said.
Another beachgoer, Stacey Beal, described a gas odor after the explosion.
“When we looked up, it was like a pile of sand blowing up out of the ground,” she said. “We saw a woman come out of her chair and we saw all the sand come up like a volcanic eruption and she was thrown five feet up and came down on her front side.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, state police, and bomb squad are investigating.
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