FL – By Robert P. King, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

A natural gas explosion blasted a hole through a concrete wall and blew out windows in two north-side apartments about 7:30 p.m. Sunday, leaving as many as 39 people homeless, firefighters said.

Investigators were trying late Sunday to determine the cause of the explosion, which forced the evacuation of two adjoining apartment buildings at 1004 13th St., city fire-rescue spokesman Phil Kaplan said.

No one was injured, he said. At the time of the explosion, he said, it appeared that no one was inside the second-floor apartment where the blast occurred. That apartment and the one below it were left uninhabitable.

Residents “are extremely lucky,” Kaplan said, standing next to a car-filled parking lot littered with concrete rubble. “That blast, to take out those concrete blocks, had to be pretty substantial.”

The Rev. McIvan Desir of Christian Fellowship Assembly next door on Tamarind Avenue felt fortunate as well. He said he was knocking on an apartment door about 30 yards away when he heard and saw the orange explosion.

Kaplan said 39 people from both buildings were forced to evacuate, at least temporarily. He said the Red Cross would find housing for those displaced by the blast.