Last year Springfield, Massachusetts was hit with tornados and a ridiculous October pre-winter blizzard. Friday night the city may have thought that mother nature was back with another trick up her sleeve as a natural gas explosion shook the area much like an earthquake would.
The blast destroyed two buildings and damaged others beyond repair and left the area looking like it had suffered a “missile strike” according to Police Sgt. John Delaney.
Lt. Gov. Tim Murray stated at a press conference, “This is a miracle on Worthington Street that no one was killed.”
According to the Associated Press, the explosion blew out all windows within a three block radius prompting emergency workers to evacuate a six-story apartment building that was reportedly buckling. Three more buildings were considered to be irreparable.
Firefighters responded to the scene at 4:20 p.m. and were investigating the gas leak when the blast happened just after 5:00 p.m.
Eighteen people were injured at the scene. Mayor Domenic Sarno states that among the victims nine are Springfield firefighters, two are Springfield police officers, four are Columbia Gas workers, one is a Springfield Water and Sewer Commission worker and two are civilians.
Officials report that the injured were transported to two area hospitals and sources from each facility have stated that the injuries sustained by all eighteen victims were not critical.
Springfield is the largest city in western Massachusetts with a number of residents in the neighborhood of 150,000. There were many reports of residents of the city experiencing their homes shaking and creaking when the explosion occurred.
Even neighboring towns felt the blast. Cindy Williams Payne of Chicopee states that her house shook at the time of the Springfield explosion.
The Scores Gentlemen’s Club building was destroyed due to the blast and residents in the area were evacuated.
Columbia Gas spokesperson Sheila Doiron states that there are no readings of natural gas in the area and that in the coming days crews will be drilling holes in the ground near the explosion site to monitor and take readings.
Mayor Domenic Sarno stated, “My thoughts and prayers are with the individuals that have been injured and the people who have been displaced.”
At least 40 apartment units in the area near the explosion were evacuated and police are not allowing people within a perimeter they have set-up close to the explosion site.
According to WWLP Springfield 22 News, civilians are not being allowed inside the area between Harrison, Tyler, Worthington, Chestnut and Spring Streets.
Residents of the area may go to a shelter that has been set-up at Central High School. Mayor Sarno states that food and transportation will be provided.