SPRINGFIELD, MASS (WGGB) – Over twelve hours after an explosion leveled a city building and damaged others, daylight is starting to afford a better look at the damage caused Friday night.
The blast happened around 5:30 p.m. Friday on Worthington Street between Chestnut Street and Spring Street, at the building that housed Scores adult entertainment club.
It originally started as a gas leak around 4:20 p.m. Friday. An odor of gas caused a call for a response from crews with Columbia Gas as well as Springfield Police and Fire.
The force of the explosion shook buildings not just in Springfield, but could be felt as far away as South Hadley, Holyoke, Belchertown, Chicopee, and other surrounding towns.
Springfield Fire Commissioner Joseph Conant says that one building – the one housing Scores – was completely leveled.
Twelve other nearby buildings sustained “significant damage,” according to Conant, and twelve others suffered “collateral damage.”
Five crews from the city’s building department will be hitting the ground Saturday morning to assess the damage. Steve Desilets, the city’s building commissioner, says that demolition contractors have been called in and some controlled demolition will begin Saturday, where it’s needed.
Residents who live in any building damaged by the blast is asked to call the Springfield Building Department at (413) 787-6731 or (413) 787-6732.
A shelter has been opened at Central High School for anyone effected by the explosion.
In total, twenty people were injured, but no deaths have been reported.
Massachusetts Lt. Governor Timothy Murray called it “a miracle on Worthington Street” that nobody was killed.
Most of those injured were hit by debris as they were near the gas when it exploded:
- 9 Springfield Firefighters
- 4 Columbia Gas workers
- 2 Springfield Police Officers
- 4 civilians
- 1 Springfield Water and Sewer worker
Among the injured was an ABC40 videographer who was covering the gas leak. He was taken to Baystate Medical Center where he is being treated.
Springfield Police Commissioner William Fitchet is assuring the residents of the city that the police department is adequately staffed to field other emergencies across the city, while several patrol units maintain a perimeter around the blast site.
Residents and motorists are being urged to avoid the three to four block area around the explosion, and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno says that the police department has launched an anti-looting unit in and around the area.
As for the cause of the blast, State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan says that it remains under investigation. He says that the gas was leaking into the building and it appears that it reached levels that were in “explosive range” which is when the blast happened.
However, Coan adds that his office, along with Columbia Gas and Springfield Fire officials, will continue to try and determine the exact cause, origin, and ignition source.
Residents should also be aware that Columbia Gas will be conducting monitoring over the next several days, both in the air and underground. This monitoring will also include some drilling into the roadway to check underground levels and see if there are any other leaks.