Two employees suffered second- and third-degree burns after an explosion inside a Sport Chalet's utility room Friday morning. The flash-flame explosion is believed to have been caused by a buildup of natural gas, but investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the leak. Patrick Healy reports from La Cañada for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on March 1, 2013.
Two workers were burned over more than half of their bodies in a natural gas explosion at a flagship Sport Chalet location in La Canada Flintridge on Friday.
The explosion occurred within a utility room next to the store just before 10 a.m. at 2 Sport Chalet Drive (map), according to Los Angeles County Fire Department officials.
The store was evacuated, closed for business and all utilities were shut down, according to Battalion Chief Greg Hisel.
The store remained closed until authorities could determine how the gas had built up to such dangerous levels, fire Capt. Al Yanagisawa said.
"We don't want to reopen it yet it till we discover what caused the incident," Yanagisawa said.
A hazardous materials team was at the site Friday, Hisel said.
The workers, a 27-year-old female and a 30-year-old male, had been told by a manager to enter the utility room to investigate after a maintenance worker smelled gas, Hisel said.
"They shut the gas off, but as they were leaving, the gas flashed on them," Hisel said. "They sustained burns."
The explosion occurred in the "scuba utility room" next to the roof parking ramp, near the store's outdoor swimming pool.
Sport Chalet issued a statement Friday afternoon expressing support for the two employees. The chain stated that the explosion occurred outside the store.
"This is the first time in the company's 54-year history that such a tragic event has occurred," the statement read.
The company's CEO, Craig Levra, said Sport Chalet was "anxious to get to the bottom of this." He declined to identify the injured employees or provide an update on their conditions.
The workers were transported to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena with second-to-third-degree burns over 50 to 80 percent of their bodies, Hisel said.
A spokeswoman for the Gas Co. reminded members of the public to call 911 or the gas company if they smell gas.
The branch of the large sporting goods retailer is located within La Canada Flintridge Town Center, a strip mall that also includes several chain restaurants, a home products store and an indoor children's playground.
The Sport Chalet -- built on the site of the original branch of the retailer, which now operates more than 50 locations in the southwest -- stands independent of the other outlets.