Centralia, MO-CENTRALIA, Mo.An apparent natural gas explosion heavily damaged a two-story building near downtown Centralia’s square Tuesday, but there were no injuries, authorities said.

A search-and-rescue team checked the two floors of the damaged building and found no one inside, said Ken Hines, assistant chief of the Boone County Fire Protection District.

There was, however, a small fire smoldering in the basement, Hines said. Demolition crews were called in Tuesday night to clear debris so firefighters could extinguish the fire.

Hines said the building had a Tae Kwon Do school on the first floor and a vacant apartment upstairs. He said no one was believed to be in the Tae Kwon Do business when the explosion happened just before 4 p.m.

The ceiling between the first and second floor collapsed and the rear of the building caved in, Hines said. That prevented searchers from immediately getting into the basement, although they had no reason to believe anyone was there, he said.

“We believe it was natural gas, and I am looking at a five-foot pile of bricks that just blew out of the front of the building, toppling the brick facade,” Hines said.

The building is in the middle of a commercial strip along south Allen Street, about 100 yards northwest of Centralia’s square. Hines said a Chinese restaurant on one side of the damaged building and a department store on the opposite side each had some wall damage.

“It’s absolutely miraculous that no one was killed or injured,” Hines said