Amhurst, MA – A husband and wife were flown to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston with burns and other injuries after their condominium unit exploded into a fireball yesterday afternoon at Emerson Court.
“It was a big boom. It shook my house,” said Michael Greenebaum, who lives across the street at Chadwick Court. “I couldn’t tell what it was so I came out and the second unit was practically gone.”
The explosion occurred just after 2:30 p.m. Fire Chief Keith E. Hoyle said about 21 people were left homeless at the complex off Gatehouse Road in South Amherst. The fire following the explosion destroyed units 7-10 and caused fire damage to units six, 11 and 12. Damage is estimated at $750,000. There was propane in the structure.
“We believe it was a gas explosion,” Hoyle said. “I haven’t seen an explosion in the Town of Amherst like this since I’ve been here, and that’s since 1970.”
The door to unit eight, where the explosion happened, could be seen on the driveway. The names of the victims were not being released last night as firefighters stayed on the scene putting out hot spots. The condition of the victims was unknown.
Police Officer David A. Rhoades was the first on the scene. The wife was found outside in the front of the building and the husband was in the rear.
Rhoades said the woman was talking and said her husband was working on a gas or water line. He said she had burns over at least 40 percent of her body.
“She turned on the washing machine and poof,” Rhoades said.
Lawyer Stephen B. Monsein was called at his office at 3 p.m. When he arrived on the scene he found his condominium next door to the initial blast destroyed. “It’s a tragedy, especially the life-threatening injuries sustained by my neighbors,” he said. “I lost property. It’s always replaceable.”
Propane was the source of an explosion that leveled a house in Chesterfield on July 5. Homeowner Kevin A. Ladd of 502 Main Road was seriously injured in the blast and had to be pulled out of the basement by neighbors and rescue workers.