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MORE: Payson fire explosion injures 10, destroys apartment building

Posted: 6:05 PM, Nov 07, 2016
Updated: 2016-11-07 20:51:21-05

Neighbors smelled gas in the air about two hours before a Payson apartment complex exploded Saturday night, injuring 10 people and destroying the apartment. 

Now officials are investigating the blast as a result of a possible gas leak, but the cause has yet to be determined. 

On Monday, crews with Alliant Gas were on site inspecting lines underground.

Over the phone, Alliant Gas spokesperson Cande Smillie told ABC15 that on Saturday, their crews were on site after reports of a gas odor when the explosion happened.

“The gas employees that were here — it (the explosion) knocked them out into the street," said Ted Pettet, who owns a business next door to the explosion site.

The two Alliant Gas workers suffered minor injuries; they were treated and released on scene, Payson Fire Chief David Staub said.

Stab said eight other people in the apartment were injured. Seven people were taken to Banner Payson with minor injuries, and another person was flown to Maricopa Burn Center in serious condition. 

“It sounded like a bomb to me. It just went boom," said Jean Hamsher, who lives a couple blocks away.

People reported hearing and feeling the explosion from miles away. 

“You can still see some of the debris up on the roof, so it was a powerful explosion," Pettet said. 

The explosion was so strong, it knocked the items off his walls.

“Everything including the closet, everything is on the floor in there still," Pettet said. 

The heat of the fire melted cars and shattered glass. Nearly a dozen people in the fourplex are left without a home.

"Two apartments upstairs, two downstairs, and it just melted everything," Petted said.

Now community members are dropping off donations at the Payson Fire Station to help their neighbors in need.