Police and fire crews were rummaging through debris at an apartment complex in suburban Atlanta on Sunday after an explosion led to a partial collapse of a building, leaving at least four people injured, authorities said.
The Dunwoody Police Department said they got calls shortly before 1:30 p.m. local time about an explosion at the Arrive Apartments, which is just north of Atlanta. Photos and videos show bricks and pieces of debris scattered with parts of a multi-level building pancaked.
“This is a very active scene and the cause of the explosion is under investigation,” the Dunwoody Police Department said on Twitter.
Four people were hospitalized with injuries from the blast, including one person with burns and another with a fractured leg. Captain Jaeson Daniels said two people were unaccounted for and may have been in one of three apartments that had completely collapsed.
“We are attempting to look for those two unaccounted for people,” he said. “Those people may not have been here when the explosion happened.”
Rescuers haven’t been able to enter those apartments due to the instability of the overall structure. The cause of the explosion was unknown.
DeKalb Fire Deputy Chief Melvin Carter told 11 Alive that a manager for the apartment complex had called earlier in the day to report the smell of gas in the building, though authorities are still investigating a cause behind the explosion. He said crews were searching through the debris and it would be a lengthy process due to the damaged structural integrity of the building.
A helicopter and drone circled above the structure as the local Red Cross began canvassing residents to see who might need help finding accommodations. The building and several others nearby were evacuated. Residents were told that Monday was the earliest they could return to their homes.
Eboni Thornton told WSB-TV that she was in a moving truck outside the building when it felt like something fell on top of the vehicle. She said the whole vehicle shook and was shocked as she exited the truck.
“The leasing office was collapsed on the left side, the double doors were blown out and I could hear a lady screaming her head off,” Thornton said.
Thornton said she saw a couple of people limping and bleeding and being carried out of the rubble. Another witness described it as feeling like a bomb had gone off.
“This explosion, man, it hit the whole block,” Richmond Punch told 11 Alive. “Like a bomb, like a helicopter, or like as if somebody crashed a car into the apartments. It was crazy.”
Brandon Winfield, 28, who lives in a building next to the one that collapsed, said he felt lucky that he avoided injury since he had driven by the site minutes before the explosion.
“I’m alive. I’m alive,” he said.
The collapse reminded him of a terrible accident that happened when he was a teenager, severing his spinal cord while participating in motocross.
“I dodged two bullets,” he said.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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