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Portland natural gas blast victims recovering


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) –Authorities say three firefighters injured in a gas explosion in a popular Portland shopping district are doing well.

Portland Fire & Rescue Lt. Rich Chatman said Thursday that Lt. Peter St. John was in good spirits following surgery for a broken leg. The fire chief, who said St. John made several critical decisions that likely saved lives, visited him.

Chatman says construction workers cut a three-quarter-inch natural gas line outside a building Wednesday and gas collected inside. The ignition source inside the structure has yet to be determined.

The blast obliterated that building and damaged others.

Police Sgt. Pete Simpson said two officers also are recovering from “concussive-type” injuries. He said both tried to stay at the scene of the explosion and had to be ordered to go to the hospital.

Three civilians also were hurt

St. John said the blast threw him up to 20 feet.

He said Wednesday in an interview from his hospital bed that he blacked out after the blast and woke up in pain.

St. John underwent surgery into the evening Wednesday.

Fire Chief Mike Myers says St. John made several critical decisions that saved civilian lives and likely saved firefighters too.

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