Gas Blast
Officials survey damage in the rubble of a destroyed building in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts Nov. 23, 2012 REUTERS

An explosion caused by a natural gas leak in downtown Springfield, Mass., on Friday gutted two buildings, caused irreparable damage to three more buildings and injured 18 people.

The explosion, which occurred at 5:25 p.m. EST, blew out most windows in a three-block radius but spared lives because an earlier gas leak had prompted an immediate evacuation of residents.

A multi-story building at the blast’s epicenter was leveled while more than a dozen firefighters, police officers and gas company workers who were in the area because of the earlier leak sustained injuries, none of which were severe, the Associated Press reported.

"This is a miracle on Worthington Street that no one was killed," Lt. Gov. Tim Murray said at a press conference.

One among the two destroyed buildings housed a strip club, which had been evacuated before the explosion.

At least 15 to 20 buildings in the area sustained extensive damage, including a six-story residential apartment. The blast was powerful enough to be felt in neighboring towns, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said, Reuters reported.

The city established an emergency shelter to accommodate residents displaced by the blast, Sarno said. Springfield has a population of about 150,000 people.

The cause of the explosion hasn't been identified but was under investigation, the AP reported, citing authorities.