WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) – A man is in serious condition and dozens of people are displaced from their apartments after an explosion rocked an apartment building in Westminster on Sunday morning.
The blast happened shortly after 10 a.m. in the laundry room on the first floor of the Lakewiew apartments at Lowell and 68th, and it appears to have been caused by a gas leak from a dryer.
The explosion sparked a fire, blew out drywall and caused ceilings to collapse. One resident, Eric McKinney, told CBS4 he tried to use a fire extinguisher and that when that failed he alerted his neighbors.
“I made sure everybody got away. I knocked on doors to try to get everybody out of it,” he said.
Firefighters had the fire under control soon after arriving.
The building was evacuated after the explosion and its 40 units are expected to remain closed to residents for several more days. Power and water services have been shut off while investigators study the site.
Officials with the Red Cross said 21 people were staying in their shelter overnight, while other residents are staying with friends and relatives.
Kane Deden told CBS4 his brother Tingkham Mounkeoyphilakhan was in the laundry room when the explosion happened and was badly burned. He said his hands and face are wounded but that while the coat he was wearing was mostly reduced to ash his torso and lower body are okay.
Managers of the apartment complex told CBS4 they are working with investigators to try to learn more about what happened. They said they didn’t have any comment when asked about the word from some residents that they smelled gas in the minutes before the explosion.
The force of the blast was so strong that it shattered windows and set off car alarms in the parking lot.
“I saw the laundry room on fire and glass all over the place,” a resident said. “I thought a vehicle hit it, it shook it so bad.”
Two other people were taken to the hospital after the explosion. Their conditions aren’t known. Three others were also treated at the scene for minor injuries.