BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) – A pre-dawn explosion shattered a two-story Birmingham apartment building Tuesday as residents slept, trapping an engaged couple in bed as bricks and concrete rained down on them.
After more than four hours of delicate work, firefighters freed the man, using large jacks to lift a concrete slab that had collapsed. But his 40-year-old fiancee, Tyrennis Mabry, was burned badly and died before rescuers could reach her, coroner’s officials said.
The man was hospitalized in critical but stable condition with numerous injuries. His name wasn’t released.
Five children and two adults also were hurt, officials said, but none of the injuries was life-threatening. Survivors crawled through fire and debris to get to the street to safety.
Fire officials said they suspected natural gas was behind the blast, but the cause was still under investigation.
Firefighters were called about 3:45 a.m. Tuesday after a fireball erupted at Gate City Apartments, a few miles from downtown Birmingham. Photos taken by residents showed flames that turned the night sky bright orange.
The blast leveled about half the building, which burned before crews could get close enough to begin rescue work.
Battalion Chief C.W. Mardis of the Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service said the couple, in a first-floor apartment, apparently were asleep in bed at the time of the explosion, which blew out the exterior walls and caused the building collapse.
“The actual concrete slab from the second floor was on them,” said Mardis.
Workers from Alagasco, the utility that provides natural gas in the area, were at the apartment complex after the explosion.
The apartment building will have to be demolished because the remaining section was unstable, Mardis said.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments
- Here’s why Gaydos went tankless with his water heater
- 12 things to watch before the Oscars
- Bocce ball and basketball: How you can help Arizona's Special Olympics athletes
- Tips on building the best wine room in Arizona
- Avoid the nightmare: 6 tips to choose a great contractor
- Breast cancer: Improved testing and treatments means more survivors
- Best and worst of Super Bowl commercials
- Failed back surgery: New hope for patients living in pain
- Ticking time bombs: Telltale signs your water heater is about to explode
- Reading glasses could be a thing of the past
- 6 cool ways teachers are using technology in the classroom
- Emerging tech jobs in Phoenix and how to get one in 2017
- 4 top treatments athletes use for pain
- Emergency! What to do when bathrooms flood
- Operation Santa Claus needs holiday help
- This college bowl season is likely to be epic
- Arizona kids in crisis: How you can help
- 11 holiday classics for the ultimate movie marathon
- New treatment offers hope for migraine sufferers
- 11 stadiums to watch your favorite football team
- Shopping for a TV? Best models for 2016
- The new beer pairing guide for holiday foods
- Avoid this holiday plumbing disaster in your home
- 7 tips to avoid holiday weight gain
- New treatments mean better prostate cancer survival rates
- 5 of the scariest things found in drains
- 6 tips to create the best family movie night