Three people were hurt Sunday in an explosion in an apartment on Herzl Street in Tel Aviv. Magen David Adom paramedics treated a woman who was seriously injured in the blast, as well as two men who suffered from smoke inhalation. All three were evacuated to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.
Firefighters who arrived at the scene quickly controlled the blaze that had started in the apartment. Police launched an investigation to determine if a leak in the building's gas cylinders may have led to the explosion.
A statement from Tel Aviv Fire Department acknowledged a gas leak as a potential cause for the fire, but, like the police, refrained from speculating until an investigation had been conducted.
Gas blast on Herzl Street (Photo: Ravid Peri)
Prof. Pini Halperin, director of the emergency room at Ichilov, said the woman had received artificial respiration and was suffering from serious burns. Her condition was being stabilized, he said, and doctors were examining the possibility of transferring her to the burns unit.
Emergency crews at the scene (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
Ravid Peri, who was across the street from the building at the time, said the fire department's response had been impressive.
"We saw a row of fire-trucks and police vehicles, and then they evacuated the casualties. The firefighters controlled the blaze within five to 10 minutes," he said.
The owner of a jewelry-making studio in the building which suffered the damage told Ynet that the residents warned about a gas leak in the early hours of the morning. She said she left her apartment this morning to an overwhelming smell of gas.
"We closed all the pipes in all the apartments and called the gas company," she said. "They told us they would come within four hours."
But then, she said, she had a call from her neighbor that there had been an explosion in one of the apartments.
Tel Aviv Fire Department truck (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
Golan, the owner of a shop near the building, said he smelled gas when he arrived at 9:30 am. "I called the gas company and they said they received a complaint and they were handing it. They took my number and said they would contact me later."
"All of a sudden I heard an explosion and saw thick smoke. If the gas company had responded in time no one would have been hurt, but it looks like they didn't take us seriously. Next time we should just call the cops."
Pazgas, the company which provides gas to part of the building, said they were investigating the incident. "We received a complaint around 8 am and one of our technicians was on his way to the building when the blast occurred. A technician and an investigator are at the building now, and we are trying to understand what caused the explosion."
A police official confirmed that the residents had called the gas company, but was not informed of any action taken to address the complaint. He said the incident appears to have been caused by a gas leak. "We don't know if this is a case of negligence or whose; we are examining all possibilities."
Two months ago, a gas leak caused a large explosion in Jerusalem that claimed the lives of two parents and their 3-year-old son.
Gilad Morag and Michal Margalit contributed to this report.