Santa Fe, NM – An explosion in the basement of an east-side house on Tuesday blew out the windows, cracked the walls and caused city officials to declare it uninhabitable.
Fire Department Battalion Comdr. Marty Sena said the incident occurred at 522 Hillside Ave., near Armijo Street, during the noon hour. Sena said the explosion apparently was caused by natural gas in the basement, where the furnace and water heater were located, but city firefighters did not enter the basement and left the investigation to New Mexico Gas Co. and the insurance carrier.
“There was no active fire,” Sena said. “There was some dust, sort of like concrete dust, because the house is made out of block.”
New Mexico Gas Co. did not respond to a message seeking the cause of the explosion.
Three occupants of two apartments on the house’s ground level were inside at the time of the explosion but were not injured. However, they were not allowed back inside because the structure was determined to be structurally unsafe, Sena said.
Peter White, who lives in the area, said he and a neighbor, Ray Herrera, looked at the damage Tuesday afternoon. All the glass in the windows was broken, and large cracks were visible in the northwest wall, he said.
“It was really something a serious disaster,” he said.
Sena said fire crews shored up a sagging wall, covered open windows and retrieved credit cards and other property for the tenants, along with a pet cat that was “a little rattled” but uninjured. He said the displaced tenants said they would stay with friends this week.
“In my 20 years here, this is only the second (explosion) I’ve done,” Sena said. “It’s not a common occurrence at all. We go to a lot of gas leaks, but explosions, not so much.”