SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) -- A natural gas explosion that injured 18 people and damaged 42 buildings in one of New England's largest cities is being blamed on a utility worker who accidentally punctured a high-pressure pipeline while looking for a leak.
Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan says the Friday night blast in Springfield's entertainment district was caused by "human error," but didn't name the Columbia Gas Co. worker who pierced the underground pipe.
Coan says the worker damaged the pipe while using a metal probe to locate the source of the leak. Officials say a flood of gas then built up in a building that housed a strip club, and some kind of spark touched off the blast.
Coan says the employee was following older markings on a sidewalk that indicated the location of the gas line. He appeared to be an appropriate distance from the line, but the markings were incorrect and the worker accidentally punctured the pipe.
Some officials called it a miracle that no one was killed.
Most of the injured were gas workers, firefighters and police officers who ducked for cover behind a utility truck just before the blast.