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Published: Saturday, 1/19/2008

Allen County explosion hurts 5; contractor hit gas main

LIMA, Ohio An explosion at a construction company yesterday injured five, including two firefighters and three utility workers, and leveled the front half of an office building in Allen County's Shawnee Township, authorities said.

The firefighters were taken to Lima Memorial Hospital, the others to St. Rita's Medical Center.

Their names were not released. Their injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

A cable company contractor struck a natural gas main about 1:10 p.m. while boring north of Tuttle Construction on Shawnee Road. The firm's employees as well as nearby businesses were evacuated, township fire Capt. Jeff Norris said.

The explosion occurred about 20 minutes later and injured an employee of Dominion East Ohio, which is the gas company, as well as employees of an underground utility locating service and the cable company and the firefighters. At the same time, the rear of the building erupted in flames.

A witness reported, "The roof went up in the air 30 feet before coming straight down," Captain Norris said.

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