SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - We're starting to learn more about the gas explosion that flattened one building and injured 20 people including several firefighters and police.
Columbia Gas crews tested the impact zone for natural gas levels all day Saturday. And although there is no imminent danger they will remain monitoring the area until at least Monday.
Our cameras were rolling as images of the mushroom cloud billowing out of buildings in downtown Springfield gave viewers a powerful glimpse of the blast.
"It was the loudest thing I've ever heard in my whole life. It was very scary. There was just so much glass everywhere," said Jason Hughes who lives on Chestnut and Pearl, just blocks from Worthington Street.
And as daylight broke, the damage caused by Friday night's gas explosion became clearer. The shattered glass was just part of the destruction. On Pearl Street, Columbia Gas crews spent much of Saturday drilling holes in the pavement to read natural gas levels. The company's spokeswoman says the smell of gas was reported an hour and a half before the blast.
"When gas got into the building and at some point there must have been some kind of ignition device. And that could be caused by any kind of electrical device. Even a phone ringing in the building is enough to cause a spark," said Sheila Doiron.
Crews will soon excavate the pipe servicing 453 Worthington St., the former site of Scores Gentlemen's Club; hoping it will lead them to the cause of the blast.
11 firefighters were treated at area hospitals some for broken bones, two for burns to the face and head. City officials inspected 62 buildings within a four block radius of the blast. Three are uninhabitable.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno says hundreds of tenants have been displaced but credits first responders for evacuating everyone in time.
"The preventative methods that they took literally saved hundreds of lives," said Sarno during a press conference Saturday afternoon.
Springfield's Department of Code Enforcement Commissioner says they want to start moving tenants back in as early as Monday. If you are a tenant who has been displaced, you can seek help at 436 Dwight Street on Sunday from 10am to 4pm.
Areas of Worthington, Lyman, Chestnut, Winter, Pearl and Spring Streets are closed tonight, and will reopen as it becomes safe.