Officials say company blamed for Soulard gas explosion was unlicensed

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by Craig Cheatham / News 4 | @CheathamKMOV

KMOV.com

Posted on February 6, 2014 at 6:36 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 6 at 7:06 PM

 (KMOV ) – A dozen people raced out of a Soulard building right before a gas explosion blew it apart Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators say workers hit a gas line, creating a leak that resulted in the explosion.

News 4 Investigates’ Craig Cheatham talked to officials with the City of St. Louis who confirmed the work crew wasn’t allowed to work on the site. The company doing the work on the site right before the explosion didn’t have a business license or a permit approved to do the work.

On Thursday, the smell of gas was still strong enough to give you a headache. The blast ripped the building apart and sent bricks flying across the street.

Witnesses say employees inside the building had less than 30 seconds to get out before the gas exploded.

Azem Dullovi, an employee for the business, told me he was the last one out, and that the explosion threw him several feet in the air.

“My back hurt...especially my neck and my head when I hit that...it's a lot of pain,” said Dullovi.

Investigators say the blast happened after a construction crew hit a gas line. They were working for the Four Winds Construction Company; the company was installing fiber optic cable for AT&T.

Richard Gray is the Public Safety Director for the city of St. Louis. He says the city didn’t even know the unapproved work for happening until the explosion

“It's like not having referees at a basketball game...we need people there to make sure they do the right things the correct way,” said Gray.

As of Thursday evening a Four Winds representative had failed to release a statement despite several attempts to make contact with the company.

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