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Explosion, Fire Gut Beachfront Homes

By Lookout Staff

March 1 -- No one was injured when an explosion caused by a natural gas leak ripped through a beachfront apartment complex Friday morning heavily damaging a five-unit triplex and snarling traffic for hours on Pacific Coast Highway.

Santa Monica firefighters were summoned to the scene at 9:41 a.m. and found two of the three buildings on the property on the 1300 block of Palisades Beach Road in flames.

Those two buildings were gutted. The third rear building sustained structural damage as a result of the explosion, SMFD spokeswoman Jill Barnes said.

Remarkably none of the triplex's tenants were home at the time of the blast. The explosion and fire rendered all of the five apartments on the property uninhabitable.

The gas leak occurred after a privately contracted construction crew hit a gas line while cutting concrete at a neighboring property. The explosion occurred in the triplex's middle building.

The explosion and subsequent fire also damaged a building south of the triplex, blackening its stucco, breaking windows and engulfing a car in flames. A second car on the property also was damaged.

Barnes said damages are at least $1.5 million for the structures and $350,000 for contents.
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