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Explosion damages 25 apartments | Victims describe how they survived

Residents of the Arrive Perimeter Apartments share their experience when an explosion destroyed 25 apartments on Sunday.

ATLANTA — Dozens of people escaped after apartments exploded in Dunwoody on Sunday.

The explosion destroyed part of the Arrive at Perimeter apartments at around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 12. One day later, residents like Dr. Tameca Richardson came back to grab some belongings, only to be told the area still wasn't safe.

"Right now, we had to move back because it's floating, and it might collapse. The fire marshall told us we have to move," Richardson said.

She said the whole experience has been traumatic.

"There was a lady in her apartment right where it happened and the guy in the one next to her. The blast put a hole in his wall. He had to go through to get to her. There were people crawling out of windows, putting people on their backs," she said.

Richardson said some people smelled gas and tried to leave, only making it to the parking lot before the explosion.

"Then it exploded on top of the car, and they were trapped in the car, and a gentleman had to pull her out on his back," Richardson said.

Atlanta Gas Light says they received a call on Sunday afternoon about the presence of a gas smell, and they were on their way to the apartments when the explosion happened. They said, as of now, they have not identified any other prior complaints regarding the smell of natural gases.

Dekalb Fire also mentioned that when they arrived on the scene, there was a strong smell of gas in the area. They confirmed that they did receive a call from the leasing manager about a gas smell prior to the explosion.

The city of Dunwoody stated Monday that on-site inspections revealed two leaks in a building that wasn't involved in Sunday's explosion. The city's building official also ordered that gas to the complex be shut off temporarily until repairs can be made and additional inspections in all buildings can take place.

DeKalb Fire and Rescue shared drone video of the aftermath as they searched apartment by apartment for victims yesterday, telling 11Alive somehow there were only four people hurt. A number Richardson said is shocking.

However, someone who identified themselves as a relative of a resident said their family member is suffering painful injuries.

They said a 77-year-old man is still in the hospital after suffering burns to more than 40% of his body and then crawling out of his apartment to escape. 

At least 25 units were damaged in the explosion. On Monday, structural engineers were assessing the damage to give the green light to more residents to move back in once their units are deemed safe.