9 Hurt in Mississippi as Natural Gas Main Ruptures, Explodes

September 18, 2007

A massive natural gas explosion in Philadelphia, Miss., leveled a medical clinic, injured nine people and shattered windows at a nearby hospital, authorities and witnesses said. No fatalities were reported.

The medical clinic, which contained four doctors’ offices, was gutted by the Sept. 15 explosion and subsequent fire.

Witnesses as far away as Union, nearly 15 miles to the south, reported feeling the blast.

Nine people were treated and released from Neshoba County Hospital, said Police Chief Dickie Sistrunk.

A beauty shop in the same complex suffered major damage, said Jeff Mayo, Neshoba County Emergency Management Director.

Alice Pinkston, a hairstylist at Deva Reflections Hair Salon, said she and 11 other people were in the beauty shop when the explosion occurred. The group reported a possible gas leak to authorities after smelling the distinctive odor and were told by the fire department that a contractor had hit a nearby gas line.

Pinkston said that when the building exploded a short while later, the ceiling in the beauty shop collapsed. She and the others escaped through a back door.

Businesses along the street more than 800 feet away reported windows being blown out and roof damage. Authorities said 35 windows were shattered at the county hospital and nursing home. No one in those buildings was injured. Three cars parked in front of the beauty shop sustained heavy damage.

The explosion and fire were reported about 11:50 a.m. The blaze was brought under control about an hour later and workers hurried to seal the broken gas line.

Sistrunk said the cause of the blast is being investigated. There had apparently been some construction being done nearby.

Mayor Rayburn Waddell said things could have been much worse. He blamed the explosion on a gas leak.

“Gas leaked into the sewer line and that’s how it got in the building. It’s a miracle that it happened when it did,” he said, adding that more people would been present during the week.

Mayo said a natural gas main ruptured and echoed the mayor’s contention that there may have been some gas leak into the sewer line.

This story was provided oncycle by the Neshoba Democrat, http://www.neshobademocrat.com

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