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Must see video & fireground audio: Natural gas explosion with fire department on scene in Springfield, MA. Firefighters, cops & gas workers hurt.

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UPDATE (Saturday AM):

The explosion occurs about 9:30 into the audio recording below. None of the 18 taken to the hospital (half of them firefighters) was critically hurt.

Latest from WWLP-TV:

Columbia Gas crews informed  Captain Cheryl Claprood that they are finding “higher than normal” levels of  natural gas readings still underground some of the streets in the area. She did not know which specific streets, but she said it’s a concern as to whether or not there are further  gas leaks.

EARLIER:

WWLP-TV:

A massive gas explosion destroyed a downtown Springfield bar, sent glass and bricks flying down Worthington Street, and injured several people, including nine Springfield firefighters and two police officers. Fortunately, all those injured are expected to survive.

“It really was a miracle on Worthington Street that no one was killed,” Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray said during a news conference in Springfield Friday night.

AP:

A natural gas explosion in one of New England’s biggest cities on Friday destroyed two buildings, including one housing a strip club, and damaged others beyond repair but didn’t kill anyone, authorities said.

“This is a miracle on Worthington Street that no one was killed,” Lt. Gov. Tim Murray said at a press conference.

Firefighters, police officers and gas company workers in the area because of an earlier gas leak and odor report were among more than a dozen injured people, authorities said.

The explosion in a downtown area of Springfield, 90 miles west of Boston, blew out all windows in a three-block radius, leaving three more buildings irreparably damaged and prompting emergency workers to evacuate a six-story apartment building that was buckling.

Police Sgt. John Delaney marveled at the destruction at the blast’s epicenter, where a multistory building was leveled.

“It looks like there was a missile strike here,” he said.

Officials at two nearby hospitals said a total of 16 victims were transported there with injuries but none was critical.

Firefighters responded to the scene at 4:20 p.m. and were investigating the gas leak when the blast happened shortly after 5 p.m. The cause of the explosion hadn’t been identified but was under investigation, they said.

Springfield, which has about 150,000 residents, is the largest city in western Massachusetts. It’s known as the home of the Basketball Hall of Fame, which is not in the vicinity of the blast.

The explosion, in an area of downtown Springfield with commercial properties and residences, destroyed a building that housed a Scores Gentlemen’s Club.

Area resident Wayne Davis said he felt his apartment building shake a block away.

“I was laying down in bed, and I started feeling the building shaking and creaking,” he said.

The Navy veteran said the boom from the explosion was louder than anything he’d ever heard, including the sound of a jet landing on an aircraft carrier.

The blast was so loud it was heard for miles around. Video from WWLP-TV showed the moment of the explosion, with smoke billowing into the air above the neighborhood.

Mayor Domenic Sarno said it was through “God’s mercy” that nobody had been reported killed in the explosion.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the individuals that have been injured and the people who have been displaced,” he said, adding that emergency shelter was being set up for those unable to go home.

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