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Two Die in Conn. Store Explosion

May 20, 1999

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) _ An explosion at a liquor store collapsed most of the two-story building, killing two people and trapping another in the burning debris for several hours before rescuers could reach him.

Ten others were injured when the building housing Vencano’s Wine & Liquor store and three apartments exploded on Wednesday.

Rescue workers dug through the rubble for two people they knew were trapped when an explosion collapsed much of the two-story building.

An unidentified man was found dead, and a 36-year-old victim was found alive pinned against a wall and under burning debris.

``He was conscious and alert through the rescue,″ Peter Siecienski, the city’s deputy fire chief. ``The firefighters were fighting fire on him.″

Jeffrey Keeler, a store employee, was in critical condition with ``major″ burns at Bridgeport Hospital, spokesman John Cappiello said.

Investigators discovered a second body this morning, pulling the unidentified man from the leveled building.

Siecienski said an initial pass by the dogs failed to turn up any scent of a second body, but he said the searchers were not able to get to a part of the building until some rubble is removed.

The cause of the blast was unknown, but fire officials said they were investigating a report of a gas leak.

Six people were admitted to Danbury Hospital. One man was in intensive care this morning after undergoing surgery for multiple trauma injuries, said Kristine Mascoli, a hospital spokeswoman.

Four others, including a 5-year-old boy, were listed in good condition. Another victim was listed in fair condition.

The hospital, which is just blocks from the liquor store, was forced to use emergency generators for two hours after the explosion knocked out power to the surrounding neighborhood.

The blast also interrupted train service for several hours between Danbury and New York City.

Helen Day was in the kitchen of her home around the corner from the store when she heard the explosion.

``It actually shook my house and I got scared and ran downstairs,″ she said. ``It sounded like a big boom.″

Danbury is about 60 miles northeast of New York City.

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