Explosion in Springfield apartment building injures 3

An explosion in Springfield injured three people on Saturday afternoon at the Ridgewood Court Townhomes.

Crews responded to a report of a gas explosion in the 1000 block of East Home Road at about 1 p.m.. Three victims were transported from the scene in multiple medical helicopters.

» PHOTOS: Explosion in Springfield apartment building injures 3

Brian Miller, chief of the Springfield Fire Rescue Division, said officials believe the incident was a natural gas explosion.

Miller said crews were already dispatched for a natural gas leak and were nearby when the explosion happened.

He said a large column of smoke was coming from the structure, which many people in the city might have seen. Fire crews worked on the ensuing blaze for about 30 to 45 minutes, he said.

Miller said he did not have an estimate on how many people were in the building. Crews extinguished flames on two victims in the front yard of the structure and went into the building to rescue a baby, he said.

The building likely will be torn down in the future, Miller said.

The incident came about two and a half weeks after another explosion in Springfield. On Tuesday, March 21, three construction workers were injured after a propane tank was damaged during work in an old Children’s Home building that’s under renovation for the Department of Job and Family Services in the 500 block of East Home Road.

A construction worker who was on fire ran to the fire station, where firefighters assisted him. That incident happened about a half-mile from Saturday’s explosion.

Witnesses on Saturday said it was obvious something was wrong from the sounds of the incident.

“I was just sitting on my couch — I live in the apartment right across from the one that exploded,” said Daniel Kunc, a resident in the complex. ”I was just sitting there and all of a sudden, I saw some fire EMTS pull up. And about 20 seconds later, the whole front of the apartment just exploded.”

Kunc said people exited the building as fire crews worked to put down flames.

“People came running out and a couple of people had burns on their legs,” Kunc said. “One girl was on fire on her back.”

Christopher Mitchell, a resident who lives upstairs, said he was asleep when he heard an explosion.

“The ceiling came down on me and I thought a plane had fallen into the building,” Mitchell said. “I came down and the whole front of the building was out.”

He said a woman screamed that a baby was upstairs and then the firefighters went to retrieve the child.

A woman was knocking on doors asking residents if they smelled gas before the incident, he said.

Mitchell suffered a minor cut while crawling out from the rubble. At least two of the victims appeared to have burn injuries, he said.

Red Cross is expected to help the displaced residents.

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