Essex, ON Gas Explosion, Feb 1980
GAS EXPLOSION ROCKS ESSEX.
Essex, Ontario (AP) -- A natural gas explosion leveled a city block in this small Canadian town early today, demolishing seven businesses and shattering windows in a blast that was heard 10 miles away.
"To our knowledge there are no fatalities, but everyone and everything in the town has been affected," said Constable Neil McWhinney. "Every building has major or minor damage."
Two men were hospitalized -- a gas company worker who tried to disconnect a leaking gas meter before the explosion, and an unidentified man who was pulled from the rubble of his upstairs apartment. The man was found "up to his armpits"
in debris, a fire-fighter said.
Police said the explosion was touched off about 2:10 a.m. when a driver lost control of his car and slammed into a gas meter behind a hardware store.
Gas spewed from the broken meter into the building, where it apparently was ignited by a pilot light, firefighters said. The hardware store and five upstairs apartments were destroyed, as were several other buildings in the block, police said.
The explosion started a fire that burned for about four hours. By 7 a.m., authorities were raking through smoking debris in a one-block area along the town's main street. All that remained standing were crumbling walls on the perimeter of the one-block area.
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