SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Candice Lopes and her husband were settled in for a quiet evening in their apartment Friday.
“We’re sitting here and all of a sudden, we hear like an explosion,” said Lopes. “I thought that a plane or something had crashed on the roof into the building or something. My husband thought an oil truck or propane tank had blown up outside.”
“And I was sitting there almost trembling,” she said. “It was so loud. It was so scary.”
Their apartment at the corner of Chestnut and Worthington Streets is less than a block from the Scores Gentlemen’s Club which was destroyed by the natural gas explosion. It was caused by a Columbia Gas worker looking for a leak.
A broken window in Lopes’ living room is boarded up and there’s bracing on a damaged bedroom wall. She and her husband are actually some of the lucky ones that are able to be in their apartments at all at this point. They live on the Worthington Street side of the building. Apartments facing Chestnut Street took the brunt of the blast. Most of those apartments have been damaged so heavily, they cannot be occupied until extensive repairs are made. The Lopes were allowed back into their home on Tuesday by inspectors.
“We left basically with the clothes on our back,” she said.
Columbia Gas which has taken responsibility for the explosion opened a claims center over the weekend for anyone affected.
“They took our paperwork and told us that they would help us with any losses that we might have endured,” she said.
They’ve been good to their word, already reimbursing the Lopes for clothes, hotel stays and food. Lopes would like to have the apartment fixed quickly, too. But she knows it’s small stuff in the big scheme of things.
“We’re just happy that we’re well,” she said.