The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 11/24/2012 3:29 AM | Comments: 0
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - A natural gas explosion in one of New England's biggest cities on Friday levelled a strip club with a boom heard for miles and heavily damaged a dozen other buildings but didn't kill anyone, authorities said.
Firefighters, police officers and gas company workers in the area because of an earlier gas leak and odour report were among the 18 people injured in the blast, authorities said.
"This is a miracle on Worthington Street that no one was killed," Lt. Gov. Tim Murray said at a press conference.
The explosion in Springfield, 90 miles west of Boston, blew out all windows in a three-block radius, leaving three buildings irreparably damaged and prompting emergency workers to evacuate a six-story apartment building that was buckling, police said.
Police Sgt. John Delaney marveled at the destruction at the blast's epicenter, where a multistory building housing a Scores Gentleman's Club, evacuated earlier because of the gas leak, was levelled.
"It looks like there was a missile strike here," he said.
The victims were taken to two hospitals in the city. None of their injuries was considered life-threatening, officials said. Those hurt were nine firefighters, two police officers, four Columbia Gas of Massachusetts workers, two civilians and another city employee.
Firefighters responded to the scene at 4:20 p.m. and were investigating the gas leak when the blast happened about one hour later. The cause of the explosion hadn't been identified but was under investigation, they said.
Springfield, which has about 150,000 residents, is the largest city in western Massachusetts. It's known as the home of the Basketball Hall of Fame, which is not in the vicinity of the blast.
The city has been rebuilding from damage it sustained in a June 2011 tornado.
The explosion happened in an area of downtown Springfield with commercial properties and residences. Area resident Wayne Davis, who lives about a block away from the destroyed strip club building, said he felt his apartment shake.
"I was laying down in bed, and I started feeling the building shaking and creaking," he said.
The Navy veteran said the boom from the explosion was louder than anything he'd ever heard, including the sound of a jet landing on an aircraft carrier.
The blast was so loud it was heard in several neighbouring communities for miles around. Video from WWLP-TV showed the moment of the explosion, with smoke billowing into the air above the neighbourhood.
Mayor Domenic Sarno said it was through "God's mercy" that nobody had been reported killed in the explosion.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the individuals that have been injured and the people who have been displaced," he said, adding that emergency shelter was being set up for those unable to go home.
An official of the gas company said there were no signs of any additional gas leaks in the area but crews would be monitoring the area closely over the next two days.
Associated Press writers Bridget Murphy and Bob Salsberg in Boston contributed to this story.
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Feds lose bid to delay refugee health case
Bourque to serve at least 75 years in prison
Police, medical examiner intervene in battle over autopsies in dead infants case
Doug Speirs does C4 Comicon
Experts: Rocket blast a setback to space tourism
Couple charged in Toronto break-ins, sex assaults
Bombers looking to end season on a high note with match against Calgary
Police rule out foul play in death of man in Pembina Valley Provincial Park
'Graphic evidence' prompted Ghomeshi firing
Former Stampeder John Forzani dies at 67
Man charged after home invasion, sex assault
Parties jostle to frame government's income-splitting plan
No visas for Ebola countries: Canada
Lively skirmishes impressively performed in Armstrong's War
Photos raise question about sex conviction: lawyer
The Lazys perform at News Café
Doug Brown voted in as defensive lineman on All-Time Blue Bombers Team
Why do victims stay silent? No easy answer
Two more arrests in violent shoplifting incidents
Zoo's new polar bear cubs meet the public
US judge rejects attempt to isolate nurse
Aboriginal filmmakers to get chance to pitch ideas and win $20-K prize
School tests fail to capture human complexity
First Iraq missions over, no bombs dropped
Drivers scramble for flying cash on US highway
Alexander announces live-in caregiver changes
Sinclair issues challenge to help heal pain of schools
Crisis bogs down legislature
Ambulance turn-around times at hospitals continue to rise despite NDP pledges
Rob Ford needs more cancer treatments
Hungary suspends Internet tax after huge protests
Man charged in death of Ryan Sinclair
First face-to-face talks over Jenpeg protest
Rowling reveals new tidbits on Pottermore site
Sony's quarterly loss balloons on mobile woes
Julianne Moore ready for her close-up, but Cronenberg's Hollywood evisceration doesn't measure up
Soccer field stabbing case pushed to Nov. 20
Students learn about Canada's history, people at city cemetery
Halloween forecast not too chilling