Eleven Slightly Hurt When Missouri Building Explodes
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ An explosion early Sunday leveled a downtown building and severely damaged two adjacent apartment buildings, injuring 11 people, authorities said.
The explosion, about two blocks from the state Capitol, also broke windows in a number of downtown stores and was felt by residents several miles away. Police patrolled downtown streets to prevent looting.
″I heard a very big explosion and all the lights went out,″ said Joyce Kelley, who lived in one of the apartments and got out safely with her 10- month-old daughter. ″I started yelling ‘Fire 3/8’ because I knew there were other people in the building.″
Authorities suspected natural gas triggered the blast that blew out plate glass windows three blocks away and flattened the two-story building, which housed the Missouri Association for Social Welfare, a private advocacy group, said Sgt. Ralph Robinett of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Fires that broke out in small apartment houses on either side of the building were brought under control about two hours later.
Police said 13 people occupied units in the apartment buildings. Eleven were treated at hospitals for cuts and other minor injuries, police said.
Seventeen of 18 huge plate-glass windows in a Food Barn supermarket about three blocks away blew out.
″We just feel fortunate it wasn’t in the middle of a busy day when there were lots of customers around,″ said store manager Russell Warson.