Firefighters, Officers, Civilians Injured in Oregon Gas Blast

A powerful natural gas explosion that neighbors said felt like an earthquake rocked a busy Portland, Oregon, shopping district on Wednesday, injuring eight people.

Three firefighters, three civilians and two police officers were hurt in the blast Wednesday that utility officials say happened after a construction crew hit a gas line, officials said.

Portland Fire & Rescue Lt. Rich Chapman said none of the injuries are life-threatening. He said two firefighters suffered broken legs and one of them will require surgery. There were no reports of fatalities.

A spokeswoman for NW Natural said structural engineers were requested to assess the building's integrity after a construction crew had hit a gas line. 

Utility and fire officials responded and decided to evacuate the building, according to NBC affiliate KGW-TV. About 20 minutes later, a "significant explosion" occurred inside the building while were on the scene, Chapman said. 

A plume of black smoke hung over northwest Portland after the Wednesday morning explosion. An image posted to Portland Fire & Rescue's twitter account showed a building with windows blown out and debris scattered on the street. 

At least two or three surrounding buildings were damaged by the blast.

A reporter from NBC affiliate KGW-TV at the scene said he saw an injured firefighter with blood on his face. People living in the neighborhood said buildings shook from the blast.

KGW-TV aired live footage showing rubble as well as firefighters spraying water onto a heavily damaged building. The TV station said a bagel shop and a beauty salon were among the occupants of the building.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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