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WATCH: Small Flames Along Sidewalk After Gas Leak Sparks Underground Explosion

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A gas explosion Friday night damaged an underground utility vault, sending flames shooting through a sidewalk and prompting the evacuation of two apartment buildings in the Westlake district.

Firefighters responded about 6:15 p.m. to the area of Seventh Street and Westlake Avenue, where flames and smoke were seen coming through a sidewalk, according to Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

No injuries were reported, but an odor of gas prompted the precautionary evacuation of a 42-unit apartment building in the 700 block of Westlake Avenue and later of a second three-story apartment building, this one with 32 units, Humphrey said.

Shaken residents didn't know what had happened.

"He said to him it sounded like somebody threw a bomb from the top because he just heard a big boom and just exploded," resident Jescenia Rhodes said.

Fire crews initially had little information.

"We have not been able to determine or see any debris or evidence of where the explosion occurred, but we do know there is a gas leak," LAFD Assistant Chief Antoine McKnight said.

But hazardous materials crews located a damaged underground vault across the street from the apartment building, Humphrey said.

Personnel from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Southern California Gas Co. were called to the scene, Humphrey said.

An LAFD battalion chief at the scene said crews at a nearby fire station felt the explosion.

Westlake Avenue was closed between Seventh and Eighth streets and was expected to remain shut down until fire department operations cleared the scene, Humphrey said.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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