An explosion at an Aztec apartment complex – the result of a natural gas leak inside the building – left one injured and dozens of others evacuated Sunday, according to authorities in New Mexico.
Aztec Fire Department Chief Kevin Simpson said the explosion was reported just before 9 a.m.
The explosion happened at an apartment complex, which consists of two buildings and 15 apartments, on West Chuska Street in downtown Aztec.
Simpson said when emergency personnel arrived, there was no active fire to fight, other than a smoldering couch that had been put out by a neighbor. And, the one person in the apartment at the time of the explosion had been taken out, also by a neighbor.
Simpson said debris from the apartment that exploded was across the street, the front door was in the middle of street, the windows were blown out and the roof had caved in. He estimated the apartment building was about 6,000 to 8,000 square feet.
The one person injured was taken by ambulance to a hospital, but Simpson said he was unsure of the extent of injuries.
Authorities determined the explosion was caused by a natural gas leak, but they are unsure what sparked it. Simpson said people in the apartment complex started smelling natural gas Saturday night, but did not report it.
“We have no idea what the ignition source was,” he said. “It could have been anything.”
Out of precaution and because all utilities had to be shut off, all 15 apartments were evacuated. Simpson said the property owner of the apartment complex paid for the displaced residents to stay in a local hotel.