(KMOV) – Residents of a Soulard neighborhood were forced to evacuate after an explosion and fire left high levels of gas in the air Wednesday afternoon.
St. Louis City Fire crews responded to call for natural gas odor and upon their arrival, meters showed levels at an explosive range at the 3-story brick building located at the corner of Menard and Shenandoah shortly after 1 p.m.
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 during the process. Gas filled the basement and 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.
Laclede Gas crews and firefighters are going through each building to make sure it's safe to restore power and gas.
Fire crews completely extinguished the building fire. The extent of damage was not immediately known.
Residents were allowed back in their houses 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.