The city of Springfield, of late, seems like a biblical figure, one of those poor, put-upon characters whose patience and endurance are continually being tested by God—in the city’s case, with freak urban tornadoes and pre-season snowstorms and, last Friday, a downtown gas-line explosion that resulted in injuries and significant property damage, including the complete destruction of several buildings. And not to get all Sodom-and-Gomorrah here, but let’s not forget this: the explosion was centered at a strip club. Located next door to a day-care center, for Pete’s sake.
For glass-half-full, God-is-merciful types, there’s plenty of could-have-been-worse details to point to: While 21 people—mostly cops and firefighters and gas-company workers—ended up in the hospital, nobody, miraculously, was killed. The Square One day-care center, fortunately, was closed at the time (and it will remain so; the building has been condemned due to structural damage). And the explosion at least had the good grace to wait several hours after the crowd that had gathered downtown that morning for the Parade of Big Balloons had dispersed. Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, who was in town for the lighting of the holiday display at the Quadrangle and who, along with Mayor Domenic Sarno, came quickly from there to the explosion site, dubbed it a “miracle on Worthington Street,” a phrase Sarno repeated multiple times during a press-conference that evening. Of course, the injured people, and those whose homes and businesses were damaged in the blast, can be forgiven if they’re not seeing the miraculous just yet.
The Springfield Intruder’s Bill Dusty offers night-of and day-after photos of the scene. Here’s video of the explosion, courtesy of WWLP’s “skycam,” made all the eerier by the lack of audio. Here, Katie Stebbins writes on her Happy Springfield Parent blog about a recent gas-leak scare, this one with a happier ending, at Sumner Avenue elementary.
Finally, the Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council has established a fund for those hurt in the blast. Donations can be sent to the Union Community Fund of Western Mass., 640 Page Blvd. #101, Springfield, MA 01104; write “first responders” on the memo line.