A gas explosion late Friday afternoon damaged an underground utility vault, sent flames shooting through a sidewalk, caused a gas leak and prompted the evacuation of two apartment buildings in the Westlake district.
Electricity in the area of Seventh Street and Westlake Avenue was shut off as a precaution and 62 evacuated residents were taken by bus to the American Red Cross shelter set up at the Lafayette Recreation Center at 625 S. Lafayette Park Place, according to Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Firefighters responded about 6:15 p.m. to the area and found flames and smoke coming through a sidewalk, Humphrey said.
No injuries were reported, but an odor of gas prompted the 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, in the same block, Humphrey said.
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 that way until fire department operations at the scene are complete, Humphrey said.
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