Heartbroken neighbors talk about driver killed in Atwater gas tanker explosion

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Dourine Isquel said it is getting easier with every passing moment, but the pain of losing her neighbor, Kamkyo Gnotsavath, is still fresh. (KFSN)

Dourine Isquel said it is getting easier with every passing moment, but the pain of losing her neighbor, Kamkyo Gnotsavath, is still fresh.

"The last couple of days have been really hard-- every morning we get up, every night we keep thinking about it."

Gnotsavath was driving the gas tanker truck that exploded in Atwater on Tuesday, killing him. He lived in Hughson, but Isquel knew him for more than a decade.

"You turn into a family, even if your just neighbors, you turn into a family."

Gnotsavath's family members described him as a family man-- they said he was a hard worker, and was putting his daughter through college. His daughter said on his down time, he liked to garden.

The California Highway Patrol is still investigating, but officers said his truck flipped over and burst into flames after he got off the Applgate Road ramp. The fuel from the gas tanker spread, sending a wave of flames down the block. Some structures were charred, while some businesses sustained smoke damage

The sounds of leaf blowers and street sweeping have been a common tune along Applegate Road as shops get ready to reopen. Jim Abbate is the owner of McDonald's said while signs outside of the building were scorched the inside is in good condition. He said they have been working all day to open as early as Friday.

"We're going to be very slow here for a few weeks, and even when it opens up it'll take a few weeks for people to recognize that the ramp is open."

The driver was working for William's Tank Lines, we tried calling them again Thursday and again, no one was available to speak with us.

As far as the clean-up, most of the street is clear and many of the businesses are open. Panda express, Carl's Jr. and 7-11 are open, Togo's and McDonald's are hoping to open Friday.

The ramps will remain closed, and city officials said it could stay closed for a few more days or even weeks.

Related Topics:
merced countyexplosionfireAtwater
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