SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A natural gas explosion in one of New England's biggest cities on Friday destroyed two buildings and damaged others beyond repair but didn't kill anyone, authorities said.
Firefighters and gas company workers in the area because of an earlier gas leak were among more than a dozen injured people, they said.
The explosion in a downtown area of Springfield, 90 miles west of Boston, blew out all windows in a three-block radius, leaving three more buildings irreparably damaged and prompting emergency workers to evacuate a six-story apartment building that was buckling.
It looked as though there was "a missile strike" where the explosion leveled the multistory building at its epicenter, police Sgt. John Delaney said.
"It's a miracle on Worthington Street: Nobody got killed," he said.
Officials at two nearby hospitals said a total of 16 victims were transported with injuries but none was critical.
Firefighters responded to the scene at 4:20 p.m. and were investigating the gas leak when the blast happened shortly after 5 p.m. The cause of the explosion hadn't been identified.
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 explosion, in an area of downtown Springfield with commercial properties and residences, destroyed a building that housed a Scores Gentlemen's Club.
Area resident Wayne Davis said he felt his apartment building shake a block away.
"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 for miles around. Video from WWLP-TV showed the moment of the explosion, with smoke billowing into the air above the neighborhood.