San Diego

Possible Gas Explosion Rattles El Cajon Apt. Complex, Injures 2

A 74-year-old man and a 61-year-old woman suffered burns in the first and second degrees, officials said.

A stove at an El Cajon apartment complex caused an explosion Wednesday that echoed through an entire community and sent two people to the hospital with burn wounds, officials said.

Residents of the complex on Lincoln Avenue reported the blast just before 8 p.m. One witness said when they ran outside to see what happened, they saw shattered glass in the parking lot and smoke and flames coming from the downstairs unit.

"I just heard a big bang, all the fire and glass coming towards me -- I got cut on my arm, and I stepped on glass while I was getting out the pool," a witness said.

Other witnesses told NBC 7 they could smell gas in the area shortly before the explosion.

Personnel from multiple fire and law enforcement agencies responded to the incident. A Heartland Fire Department official said the majority of the flames were extinguished by the time they arrived.

A couple was taken to UC San Diego Medical Center with burn injuries, the official also said.

The 74-year-old man suffered first and second-degree burns over 25 to 30 percent of his body, according to Heartland Fire-Rescue spokesperson Capt. Sonny Saghera. 

A 61-year-old woman suffered second-degree burns over 30 percent of her body, he said.

Emergency responders shut off gas and electricity to the building while they investigated what caused the boom.

Residents were evacuated until crews could finish their investigation and determine that there was no structural damage.

El Cajon police shut down Lincoln Avenue between Main Street and Lexington.

On Thursday, Saghera said officials believe the stove caused the explosion. It was not a natural gas leak in that there was not a broken underground pipe, Saghera said. 

The manager of the apartment complex told NBC 7 Thursday that fire investigators told her a "flex line" that connects the stove to the wall was worn out and led tot eh explosion.

She said she will likely replace most if not all of the stoves in the complex because they are roughly 10 years old.

The manager and a handyman spent Thursday going door to door and checking the stoves in the units.

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