FORESTVILLE, Md. (AP) – Five firefighters and another person were seriously injured Thursday in a gas explosion next to a pregnancy clinic at a Maryland strip mall, authorities said.

Crews were called Thursday afternoon to a shopping center in Prince George’s County for a report of a natural gas leak, said fire department spokesman Mark Brady. Brady said a gas company employee was working on a gas line at the time of the blast.

Jeanette Zak, a board member of the Forestville Pregnancy Center, called 911 to report the gas leak. Zak said she watched from her car as firefighters tried to get into a vacant storefront next to the center. Then the store exploded.

“I could feel the heat from my car … and kind of the whoosh of the air,” Zak said.

She said she felt fortunate that she called 911 on time and no one at the center was hurt. Ordinarily, there would have been clients receiving counseling, but the counselor who works on Thursdays had a medical appointment.

Zak speculated the gas leak might have been caused by recent renovations in the empty storefront.

A Subway sandwich shop and a Ledo Pizza restaurant are also located near the site of the explosion.


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