PITTSBURGH (AP) - A natural gas explosion at a school
construction site in downtown Pittsburgh on Thursday injured four
workers, police said.
The workers, who suffered second- and third-degree burns, were
taken to West Penn and Mercy hospitals, said police spokeswoman
Tammy Ewin. There was no structural damage to the school.
It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, which
occurred at the construction site for the Pittsburgh High School
for the Creative and Performing Arts, officials said. The explosion
took place in the basement, fire officials said.
Electricians working underground outside the walls of the
building said they felt the explosion.
"There was no sound, but the ground shook back and forth,"
said Nick Kulasa, who was about 50 feet from the blast. "We got
out of there pretty fast."
The injured workers were conscious when they were taken out of
the construction site, Pittsburgh Deputy Fire Chief Dan Hennessy
There was a strong smell of gas in the area about 30 minutes
after the explosion.
A gas line to the construction site was turned off and the Ninth
Street Bridge leading to the site was closed, causing traffic to be
rerouted, Ewin said.
Brian Simone, 27, and Richard Bavicka, 47, were being treated
for facial burns, according to a West Penn Hospital spokeswoman.
Bavicka was in serious condition Thursday afternoon, while
Simone asked that his condition not be released. The names of the
other two workers were not immediately released, but they were
reported in fair condition at Mercy Hospital.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)