Nov 13, 2009 11:56 AM by David Ortiviz

Construction begins a year after deadly explosion

It was one year ago, a natural gas explosion destroyed the Branch Inn in historic downtown Pueblo. Now there are plans to rebuild in that area.

The explosion happened on November 13, 2008 around 2 p.m. The Branch Inn, which was located on the corner of Union Ave. and C St., was leveled in the blast. Other nearby shops were also damaged.

Ashley Johnson, 22, was next door to the Branch Inn, inside A Classic Boutique. Johnson died in the explosion. Several others were injured.

ATF agents later determined the natural gas accidentally ignited.

A year later there are future plans for the historic district. A new building will be constructed on the empty lot where A Classic Boutique once stood. The building will be divided into two spaces for separate businesses. However, there's no word yet on which businesses will occupy the space.

Merchants in the area say they're glad to see the construction. "It's been a year and it's been a long time," said Rich Lane, an owner of Seabel's. The Branch Inn used to stand across the street from Seabel's. Seabel's was severely damaged. "You know we were closed for 67 days and it felt like a year being closed," said Lane. "As we see construction of the two new buildings going back up, you know that provides a sense of relief and comfort knowing we're get this place rebuilt down here on Union," he added.

The lot were the Branch Inn was located remains vacant.


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