(CNN) -- Justin Randall began to wonder if he had picked the wrong day to drive his convertible through downtown Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday, as debris rained down from an explosion at a facility that sells acetylene gas.
I-Reporter Ashok Visuvasam captured photos of rising fireballs from an explosion in Dallas, Texas.
As he drove on Interstate 35E past the explosion at Southwest Industrial Gases Inc., he used his cell phone to shoot I-Report video of the fireballs and smoke rising in the distance. But he realized he had to cut his citizen journalism efforts short when he saw metal debris in the roadway.
Some pieces were larger than car bumpers, he said. He threw his phone onto the seat beside him and stopped filming so he could dodge obstacles in the road, all the while hoping that nothing would fall on him. He decided against putting the top up, figuring the debris was so large, it would make little difference. Besides, he didn't want to obscure his view of the road.
Falling debris also shook Ashok Visuvasam, who said he was heading to work and happened to have a good camera with him for an assignment that day. He captured clear and dramatic photos of fireballs at the gas facility, but he began to think it was too dangerous to remain in the area when he saw a cylinder fall into the water 200 to 300 yards away. Before he left, he tried to hurry others away from the area.
The blast also detoured David Saenz of Mesquite, Texas, who was commuting west to his job in Fort Worth when he saw smoke rising. He was approaching the "Canyon" and the "Mixmaster," two major traffic bottlenecks in Dallas, and decided to exit Interstate 30 while he could.
The surface streets eventually sent him circling around Reunion Arena, where Saenz said he got a better view of the flames and smoke. Ash and debris fell on his truck. When he was near the Dallas County Courthouse, he had to wait for a while and saw fire trucks head up and down the streets. The scene was chaotic for motorists, Saenz said.
"I heard a lot of booms," he said. "A lot of explosions. Constantly. Just a lot of smoke. A lot of mass confusion. Police everywhere. Police everywhere."
There were plenty more I-Reports from others in the area. Marek Ryciak lives a few blocks away and reported hearing loud explosions and feeling his windows rattle. He looked out and saw thick smoke. Randy Merkord was working on the 52nd floor of his office building about a mile from the scene, and he felt his windows rattle as well.
"We just kind of heard an explosion, kind of like thunder first, and went to the windows and saw what was going on," Merkord said.
Philip Gagner didn't hear or feel anything, but he could see the smoke from his window in the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas building, so he pulled out his cell phone to take a picture. He then went online to see what was going on.
"At first, I was kind of worried because it's pretty close to here," Gagner said. "I went to the live video feed of the local television feed, and I could see that it was continuously exploding every few seconds."
The flames were spotted around 9:30 a.m., and the smoke was apparently gone by about noon, he said. E-mail to a friend
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