Chicago, IL – A teenaged girl suffered critical burns in a natural gas explosion that heavily damaged an apartment building in the far south side Pullman neighborhood.

The girl apparently touched off the explosion when she turned on the stove in her apartment on the second floor of the three-story apartment building, at 410 E. 107th St., despite a strong natural gas odor.

Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said the explosion and fire could have been avoided, had residents known what to do.

Langford said the residents called building management when they began to smell natural gas early Friday afternoon, several hours before the explosion, but apparently did not contact either Peoples Gas or the Fire Department.

Langford said either the gas company or firefighters could have shut off natural gas lines to the building before the explosion occurred.

The severely-burned teen staggered into the hallway, where the woman who lived across the hall encountered her.The girl refused her help, but the woman dashed from the building, told bystanders what had happened, and several men charged inside despite the flames and brought her out, putting her on the ground in the rear of the building, moments before firefighters arrived.

Initially, firefighters believed the woman had jumped.

Fire Department paramedics transported the teen to the University of Chicago Hospitals.

Langford said other residents of the building managed to get out without injury.