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Gas Explosion In Michigan

A natural gas explosion Tuesday morning destroyed two buildings and damaged several others in the small Kalamazoo County community of Galesburg.

At least one injury was reported in the 6:23 a.m. blast, Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Detective Lamar Brooks said. Galesburg has about 1,800 residents and is about 15 miles east of Kalamazoo.

The gas company that serves the area, Consumers' Energy, did not immediately return a call, and the phone lines at the Galesburg police and fire stations were continuously busy.

The state police fire marshal's office was being called to the scene. Nearby Comstock Township sent one fire truck to assist Galesburg emergency crews, Comstock Township firefighter Jim Johnson said. The explosion in downtown Galesburg leveled a hardware store, pharmacy, and veterinary clinic, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported.

"It was real loud. A big boom and the building shook a little bit. We ran down the street and saw the drugstore was filled with smoke," said Debby Nash, who was working at the Galesburg Meat Co. less than a block away.

"It was a perfect time of day for this to happen. Fifteen minutes later, it would've been full of traffic and people going to work," Nash said.

Police evacuated eight square blocks and set up shelters at city hall and a church. While people were allowed to return home after several hours, two downtown blocks remained cordoned off through the morning. Fires started by the blast were mostly out at 10 a.m. EST.

Only one injury was reported, to a man who had stopped his vehicle at a red light when the blast occurred. The 31-year-old Kalamazoo man was treated for cuts at Borgess Medical Center, hospital spokesman Lew Tysman told the newspaper.

Last Friday, four people were killed and 16 injured in a gas explosion in St. Cloud, Minn. Construction workers had apparently ruptured the gas line.