Businesses, homeowners file claims after blast
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WHDH) -- Businesses and homeowners are picking up the pieces in Springfield following a gas explosion that leveled a strip club and damaged dozens of buildings.
People are filing claims against Columbia Gas -- the company that has taken responsibility for the blast.
Displaced residents and business owners gathered at City Hall on Monday where Columbia Gas of Massachusetts set up a claims center to help the victims.
“Basically, we lost everything. Our whole life was in our storage unit,” Ernest Allen said.
“We are able to provide -- on a case-by-case basis -- a small cash advance,” said Sheila Doiron, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts.
Officials say the Friday explosion, which injured 21 people, happened after a gas worker punctured a gas line while looking for a leak. Investigators say the worker was following proper procedure.
Sajid Zaman was inside his convenience store when the blast hit. He and his customers raced out while glass was flying everywhere.
“Thankfully we are safe. Forget the rest of the things,” said Zaman.
Felicia Foster’s apartment building was destroyed in the blast. She had just left for a walk minutes before the explosion.
“I felt in my knees, ‘cause I didn’t know. The shock just put me down on my knees,” said Foster.
The Square One Day Care Center next to the strip club was also destroyed. Fortunately, it was closed. Day care officials say it was the second disaster to hit the business. Their other day care center was destroyed in the 2011 tornado.
“This sort of thing is supposed to happen maybe to an organization once in a lifetime,” said Kimberly Lee, Square One Day Care.
City officials estimate hundreds of people have been left homeless due to the explosion. They are working to get those who were displaced shelter within a couple of days.