10:12 AM PDT, September 13, 2021
At least four people were hospitalized after a massive explosion tore through a suburban apartment community outside Atlanta, leaving the three-story structure unstable, authorities said.
Some residents reported smelling gas before Sunday’s blast ripped across the area, setting off car alarms and sparking fires as residents fled from their luxury apartments at the Arrive Perimeter complex. Georgia Rescuers sifted through the debris Sunday and ultimately reported every one was accounted for.
“The leasing office was collapsed on the left side, the double doors were blown out and I could hear a lady screaming her head off,” Eboni Thornton told WSB-TV. She had been sitting outside in a moving ruck when it sounded like something had crashed onto the roof and the entire vehicle started shaking.
She saw people bleeding as they were led from the wreckage, she said.
“This explosion, man, it hit the whole block. It was felt (by) like four complexes at least, the whole block felt it,” resident Richmond Punch told 11Alive. “Explosion, bam! Like a bomb, like a helicopter, or like as if somebody crashed a car into the apartments. It was crazy.”
All residents were evacuated and utilities in the apartment complex were turned off, authorities said. At least 75 firefighters reported to the explosion.
A leasing manager had reported smelling gas Sunday, officials said.
DeKalb Fire Deputy Chief Melvin Carter told 11 Alive a manager had called earlier in the day about a gas odor and that authorities are still investigating what caused the explosion. It was unclear when residents would be allowed to return to their homes.
The utility company issued a statement following the blast.
“Atlanta Gas Light joined first responders to assist in investigating an incident near the 2000 block of Asbury Square in Dunwoody. We immediately began coordinating an emergency response with local first responders. At present, natural gas has been turned off to the locations directly impacted by the incident, and there are no additional service outages. Atlanta Gas Light crews remain on site assisting first responders.
“The safety of our customers and employees is Atlanta Gas Light’s No. 1 value, and our thoughts remain with those impacted,” the statement added.