POSTED: Saturday, December 1, 2012 - 12:00pm
UPDATED: Saturday, December 1, 2012 - 12:04pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — A utility worker responding to reports of a natural gas leak in Springfield, Massachusetts punctured a pipe and an unknown spark ignited a massive explosion that injured 18 people and damaged 42 buildings, the state fire marshal said on Sunday.
State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said during a news conference that "human error" caused a natural gas blast in Springfield's entertainment district on Friday night. He didn't name the Columbia Gas Company worker who pierced the high-pressure pipe.
Preliminary reports showed the blast damaged 42 buildings housing 115 residential units. Three buildings were immediately condemned and 24 others require additional inspections by structural engineers to determine whether they are safe.
Some officials said it was a miracle no one was killed. Springfield Fire Commissioner Joseph Conant praised the actions of city firefighters.
"The firefighters did an excellent job evacuating the area which certainly prevented additional civilian injuries and saved many lives," Conant said.