Investigators probing an explosion at a western Massachusetts strip club that flattened the business and a nearby day care center said more than 40 buildings were damaged in the blast.
The explosion rocked Springfield, one of the largest cities in Massachusetts, while city leaders were attending a city tree-lighting ceremony. And while the explosion destroyed two businesses and damaged so many others, somehow nobody was killed — a minor miracle in itself.
1. Investigators Still Don’t Know What Exactly Happened
Investigators on Saturday were trying to figure out what caused the explosion, which left a huge hole in the ground where Scores Gentleman’s Club had stood. They know it was natural gas, but aren’t sure how the gas built to such deadly limits.
2. The Area Was Already Evacuated
Officials had already emptied out the area after an odor of natural gas was reported about an hour before the explosion. Some reports indicate that some of the dancers inside the club also smelled the odor while they were on stage.
3. A Utility Truck Saved a Lot of People
Luckily, nobody was killed because officials had already evacuated part of the entertainment district after an odor of gas was reported about an hour before the explosion. Gas workers venting a leak got indications the building was about to explode and were able to duck behind a utility truck just before the building blew up, and while 18 people were injured, nobody died. The truck that saved their lives, though, was destroyed.
4. Officials Say It’s a Miracle Nobody Died
State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said it was a miracle nobody died, considering the scope of the explosion:
It really is a miracle and it’s an example of our public safety officials, each and every day, putting themselves in harm’s way, taking what could have been considered a very routine call of an odor of gas, but they took the proper precautions. And thanks to God that they did.
5. A Lot of Kids Could Have Been Hurt or Killed
The blast happened at about 5:30 p.m., or about the time a lot of parents would have been picking up their kids at the neighboring day care center. However, the center was closed, possibly for the holiday, and although the facility was heavily damaged, nobody got hurt.
6. The Explosion Rocked a Huge Area
The blast blew out buildings’ windows around a three-block radius, leaving three buildings damaged beyond repair and causing emergency workers to evacuate a six-story apartment building that was buckling.
7. Business Owners Compared it to an Earthquake
The blast blew out floor-to-ceiling windows at one restaurant, located two blocks away, causing manager Omar Fermin of the Punta Cana Restaurant to compare the damage to an earthquake. The restaurant will need to stay closed until the owner can replace the custom-made windows, he said.
It looks like an earthquake hit. I’ve never seen anything like it.
8. People are Homeless After the Explosion
Reports show the explosion damaged 42 buildings, which have 115 apartments. Three buildings were condemned immediately, while 24 others require structural engineer inspections to decide if they are stable and safe for occupancy.
9. The Gas Company Says There Don’t Seem to Be More Leaks
Columbia Gas of Ohio spokeswoman Sheila Doiron said the company will monitor for leaks not only at the site, but also within several blocks surrounding it, but so far, the company hasn’t found any problems. She also said that before Friday’s explosion, the company couldn’t find anything in its records showing that anyone had called in to report smelling gas.
10. Most of Those Hurt Were Emergency Responders
The victims, who were taken to hospitals in the city, didn’t receive life-threatening injuries. The 18 injured included nine firefighters, two police officers, four Columbia Gas workers, two civilians and another city employee.