(KMOV) – Residents of a Soulard neighborhood back in their homes Thursday, a day after being forced to evacuate following an explosion and fire that left high levels of gas in the air.
St. Louis City Fire crews on Wednesday responded to call for a natural gas odor at the corner of Menard and Shenandoah around 1 p.m.
Upon their arrival, meters showed levels at an explosive range at the 3-story brick building.
An immediate evacuation was ordered and 11 occupants were able to get out safely without injury. Moments later an explosion occured, blowing the windows and sending flames to all three floors of the building.
Chief Dennis Jenkerson said it was a close call.
According to the building manager, a crew was installing fiber line when a subcontractor working on the AT&T project hit a gas line. Gas filled the basement and is believed to have sparked the explosion.
Emergency crews evacuated homes along the 2200 block of Menard as dangerous levels of gas were still reading in the area. Laclede Gas shut off gas to about 22 buildings and are working to fix the damaged pipe.
Fire crews completely extinguished the building fire. The extent of damage was not immediately known.
Residents were allowed back in their houses overnight after Laclede Gas worked on the damaged pipe and restored gas and heat to those neighboring homes.
Authorities are investigating how the line was hit and what transpired prior to the explosion.