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9 injuries reported after natural gas explosion, building collapse in Denver

Posted at 12:47 PM, Aug 14, 2018

DENVER – A natural gas explosion caused at least one building to partially collapse Tuesday in Denver, injuring nine people. 

Simon Crittle, a spokesperson for Denver Health Medical Center, said two people were transported to the hospital by ambulance after the explosion and collapse. One of the people suffered traumatic injuries in the explosion. The other person was stable Tuesday afternoon.

Crittle said that several other people were being treated at the scene of the explosion and collapse and that first responders were looking for other possible victims.

Denver Fire Captain Greg Pixley said the explosion was reported at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday and said several buildings were damaged in the area. One person who had been trapped was rescued by firefighters.

Pixley said that crews were working to put out an active fire at the scene in addition to working to reduce the chance of other explosions in the area and further collapses. He said there were no reported deaths as of 2:10 p.m.

An Xcel Energy spokeswoman on scene said all of the company equipment is intact up to the meters, meaning the explosion was likely caused by a customer. Xcel is working to turn off gas remotely. The spokeswoman said the company has a distribution site at Lipan Street and Santa Fe Drive and staff at that location said they felt the explosion.

Eileen Andrews, who owns the nearby Baker Neighborhood Market, said she saw a man run from the wreckage of the explosion who had his clothes blown almost entirely off his body and that the man suffered burns.

"I mean everything was exposed -- he barely had a couple strings left of his pants. He was completely exposed and said he didn't know what happened," she said. "It was just like the biggest, loudest boom I've ever heard."

She said some men who had been working on her business' HVAC system ran over to help the man and another trapped woman.

Another neighbor, Edward Scott, said he was on the phone with his insurance company at his nearby home when the explosion happened.

"[The insurance agent] was on the phone with me going, 'What happened, what happened?' and I said, 'I don't know, I think my house just blew up,'" Scott said.

He said he was hit by wood debris from the explosion and that the shockwave from the blast was so intense he thought his own home had exploded. When he realized it was another home across the street, he said he walked over to the scene and saw a person rescued from the rubble.

"It was two people ... a lady. And then this guy picked her up and firemen carried her out of the house," Scott said. "And then the other one ... and they were boyfriend-girlfriend and they were both bartenders and they were sleeping."

Scott said the woman had been looking for her cat, which was missing, but which was later discovered alive at the scene.