A natural gas explosion tore through a strip club in western Massachusetts on Friday evening, leveling the business and sending at least eight people to the local trauma center.
The smell of gas had sent employees, customers and dancers racing out of the building. Then, at about 5:20 p.m., a gas leak at the Scores Gentleman’s Club in Springfield’s downtown district ignited, sending shock waves that rattled the community, knocking people down and shattering windows blocks away.
Police said there have been no reports of fatalities.
Debbie, a dancer at Scores who didn’t want her last name used, told the Massachusetts newspaper the Republican that she was performing on stage when she was told to evacuate.
As she gathered her clothes to leave, the manager came up and said, “I don’t care if you’re [expletive] naked or not, get out,” Debbie told the Republican.
The manager hurried people over to the Mardi Gras Champagne Room across the street, the Republican reported.
“I feel lucky we got out,” Debbie told the paper. She said all her work clothes were lost.
Another Scores employee told local TV news reporters that workers there had smelled gas for weeks. She lost her car in the blast.
"It rocked us so hard the windows smashed. It felt like an earthquake or a large explosion,” Stephanie Simmons, a waitress at a bar two blocks away, told the Republican. “There was pretty much chaos.”
At least one employee investigating the gas smell for Columbia Gas of Massachusetts was injured.
Ten people were rushed to Bay State Medical Center, said Jane Albert, spokeswoman for the trauma center’s sister health center, Bay State Health. Five were admitted -- none in critical condition -- and the other five were still being evaluated, Albert told the Los Angeles Times.
Hours before the explosion, people in the area reported smelling natural gas, said Columbia Gas spokeswoman Sheila Doiron.
“We were in the process of determining the source of the odor when it happened,” Doiron told The Times. “The building exploded.”
Earlier this month, a natural gas explosion in Indianapolis killed a married couple and left more than 30 houses uninhabitable. Authorities have opened a homicide investigation into that Nov. 10 blast.ALSO: