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Mass. natural gas explosion damaged 42 buildings

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Saturday, November 24, 2012 - 7:26 pm

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Preliminary investigations show more than 40 buildings were damaged in a natural gas explosion in Massachusetts that injured 18 people, building inspectors said Saturday.

A strip club was flattened and a day care center was heavily damaged in the massive explosion Friday night in Springfield, one of New England's biggest cities.

No one was killed in the explosion.

Investigators were trying Saturday to figure out what caused the blast that could be heard for miles, left a large hole in the ground where the multistory brick building housing Scores Gentleman's Club once stood and scattered debris over several blocks.

Officials already had evacuated part of the entertainment district after responding to a gas leak and odor reported about an hour before the explosion. Gas workers venting a gas leak got indications that the building was about to explode and they ducked for cover behind a utility truck — along with firefighters and police officers — just before the blast, said Mark McDonald, president of the New England Gas Workers Association.

Most of the injured were in that group, and the truck that saved their lives was essentially demolished, he said.