by SUSAN HAIGH
---- — SPRINGFIELD — A natural gas explosion in one of New England’s biggest cities yesterday destroyed two buildings and damaged others beyond repair but didn’t kill anyone, authorities said.
Firefighters and gas company workers were among more than a dozen injured people, they said.
The explosion in a downtown area of Springfield, 90 miles west of Boston, blew out all windows in a three-block radius, leaving three more buildings irreparably damaged and prompting emergency workers to evacuate a six-story apartment building that was buckling.
Police Sgt. John Delaney said it looked as though there was a missile strike where the explosion leveled the multistory building at its epicenter.
Officials at two nearby hospitals said a total of 16 victims were transported with injuries but none was critical.
Firefighters responded to the scene at 4:20 p.m. and were investigating a gas leak when the blast happened shortly after 5 p.m.
The explosion, in an area of downtown Springfield with commercial properties and residences, destroyed a building that housed a Scores Gentlemen’s Club.
Area resident Wayne Davis said he felt his apartment building shake a block away.
“I was laying down in bed, and I started feeling the building shaking and creaking,” he said.
The Navy veteran said the boom from the explosion was louder than anything he’d ever heard, including the sound of a jet landing on an aircraft carrier.