Following an explosion at a Brighton garage apartment, four area law enforcement and fire department personnel were injured when a second floor landing collapsed.
At 12:26 this afternoon, a natural gas explosion at a two-story garage apartment, heavily damaged the building, but did not injure anyone. The explosion at 1034½ King Street occurred when natural gas escaped into the apartment due to an improper connection of the gas service line to apartment appliances.
The occupant of the apartment attempted to obtain gas service by bypassing the meter and regulator then connecting the service line to improvised piping that led to a stove and space heater. The gas pressure, normally controlled by the meter and regulator, caused the valve of the heater to malfunction. Escaping gas eventually found its way to a pilot light on the stove, resulting in the explosion.
Responding emergency agencies included the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Brighton Volunteer Fire Department, the Brighton Police Department, the Lipscomb Police Department and the State Fire Marshals Office.
During the investigation, the Brighton Police Chief and Deputy State Fire Marshal Bruce Matson climbed the stairs to the second story apartment and entered the building. Outside, Sgt. Larusso and Deputy Flurry of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Lipscomb Police Chief J. W. Riley, and Rufus Shields, Jr. and Rufus Shields III of the Brighton Volunteer Fire Department were waiting on the landing when it suddenly collapsed.
Sgt. Larusso sustained a broken right ankle and was transported by ambulance to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham. Deputy Flurry sustained bruises, Chief Riley sustained an injury to his left knee and Rufus Shields, Jr. received a cut to his left hand. Neither Flurry, Riley nor Shields were transported to the hospital.
At the present time it is unknown if the landing was weakened by the explosion or was structurally incapable of supporting the five men.