By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) – Nine people were injured, one critically, on Tuesday when a natural gas explosion leveled a Denver apartment building, a fire department spokesman said.
First responders rescued two victims trapped inside the building, described as a “fourplex,” in Denver’s historic Baker neighborhood, said Denver Fire Captain Greg Pixley.
No one else was believed trapped in the rubble, Pixley said, but firefighters were making sure the structure was stable before conducting a thorough search.
Fire crews were working with Xcel Energy Inc, the Denver utility that supplied the building, to ensure all gas was eliminated from the area, Pixley said.
Xcel Energy spokeswoman Michelle Aguayo said by phone the utility was working with the fire department to determine the cause of the blast.
Two people hurt in the explosion were transported to Denver Health Medical Center, said hospital spokesman Simon Crittle. One had severe traumatic injuries while the other’s injuries were not as severe, he said.
Seven other people who suffered minor injuries were treated at the scene, the Denver Fire Department said on Twitter.
A man who lives in the area told Denver television station FOX31 he smelled gas as he was walking to the store, before an explosion sent bricks flying into the street.
The fire department posted pictures of the apartment building on Twitter showing its roof collapsed in the explosion, which sent wooden beams and other rubble cascading across the sidewalk.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant and James Dalgleish)