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An explosion at a SoCal sporting goods store sent a 27-year-old woman and 30-year-old man to the hospital with burns covering more than half their bodies. Following the incident, which occurred just before 10 a.m. on Friday, the company issued the following statement:
Our heartfelt thoughts and support are with our two employees who were hospitalized this morning following an explosion outside of our La Cañada Flintridge store. The cause of the incident is being investigated by local agencies. This is the first time in the company’s 54-year history that such a tragic event has occurred.
NBC LA reports that, according to L.A. Fire Department officials, the natural gas explosion happened in a utility room of the store, and that the victims were sent there by a manager to investigate a smell reported by a maintenance worker. Said the battalion chief:
"They shut the gas off, but as they were leaving, the gas flashed on them."
The injured workers were taken to Pasadena's Huntington Hospital, each with second-to-third-degree burns covering 50 to 80 percent of their bodies.
KTLA reports that the utility room housed "chlorine and acid" for the store’s swimming pool — SCUBA certification and other services are offered at that location. All utilities were shut down after the blast, and the building — the retail chain's original store — was evacuated and closed.
A spokeswoman for the Southern California Gas Company told the La Cañada Valley Sun that the utility "tells customers to never attempt to control or repair a gas leak, or fix a damaged pipe or meter." She said that if gas customers:
- smell gas
- hear a hissing gas leak
- see a visual sign (like dirt or water flying into the air)
- immediately evacuate the area
- do not light a match
- do not use electrical appliances
- call the gas company at (800) 427-2200
- or dial 911