Paris police look at gas leak as possible cause of explosion and fire that injured 24 (2024)

By The Associated Press and ANGELA CHARLTON and ALEX TURNBULL

Published: Jun. 21, 2023 at 10:55 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2023 at 5:19 PM CDT

PARIS (AP) — A strong explosion rocked a building in Paris’ Left Bank on Wednesday, injuring at least 24 people, igniting a fire that sent smoke soaring over the French capital’s monuments and prompting an evacuation of other properties, authorities said. Police were investigating suspicions that a gas leak caused the blast.

The facade of the building in the 5th arrondissem*nt collapsed, and officials said rescuers were searching for two people who might be trapped inside. The explosion happened near the historic Val de Grace military hospital, in one of the most upscale neighborhoods ofthe French capital.

Some 270 firefighters were involved in putting out the flames and 70 emergency vehicles were sent to the scene. The fire was contained but not yet extinguished Wednesday evening, as Paris bars and restaurants celebrated the summer solstice with a citywide annual music festival.

Sirens wailed as ambulances passed through the neighborhood and police initially cordoned off the street, rue Saint-Jacques. By evening, smoke had stopped pouring out of the building where the explosion occurred.

“It is possible that overnight we will find bodies or people alive,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said from the scene.

District Mayor Florence Berthout said on French TV channel BFM that firefighters were searching for two people believed to have been inside the building at the time of the blast. “The explosion was extremely violent,” she said, describing pieces of glass still falling from buildings.

Paris police chief Laurent Nunez said the building housed a private school, the Paris American Academy. The school was founded in 1965 and offers teaching in fashion design, interior design, fine arts and creative writing.

A Paris police official told the Associated Press that 24 people were injured, including four in critical condition and 20 with less severe injuries. The injuries were sustained mainly when people were blown off their feet by the blast, the official said.

Jema Halbert, who owns a butcher’s shop close to the explosion site, said she went upstairs to fetch something, and “I heard a ‘boom’. ... So then I went downstairs, where I found my husband in shock, dust by the till and I thought, wait, there’s a problem. So I stepped outside and I saw big flames and I said, it’s impossible. I called my daughter. She was crying. She was shocked.”

Edouard Civel, deputy mayor of the 5th arrondissem*nt, attributed the explosion to a gas leak, but other officials were more cautious. A judicial official said a gas explosion was one of the possible causes under investigation.

Renowned Greek-French filmmaker Costa-Gavras was among the witnesses at the scene .

“A huge noise and the house was shaken like this,” the 90-year-old told the AP, visibly rattled. “”We thought, what is going on? We thought it could be the sky (a storm). ... It’s not something to laugh about.”

The Paris prosecutor said an investigation was opened into aggravated involuntary injury and the probe would examine whether the explosion stemmed from a suspected violation of safety rules. Prosecutor Laure Beccuau said investigators would seek to “determine whether or not there was failure to respect a rule or individual imprudence that led to the explosion.”

Firefighters prevented the fire from igniting two neighboring buildings that were “seriously destabilized” by the explosion and had to be evacuated, Nunez said. The explosion blew out several windows in the area, witnesses and the police chief said.

With more than 2 million people densely packed within the city limits and historic, sometimes ageing, infrastructure, Paris is not a stranger to gas explosions.A January 2019 blastin the 9th district killed four people and left dozens injured.

After Wednesday’s blast, a student at the private school said he was in a building about 100 meters (yards) away when the explosion hit.

“I was sitting on the windowsill, and we moved 2 meters away from the window, carried by a small blast (from the explosion) and huge fear,” Achille, whose last name was not given, told BFM television.

“We came down (from the building) and saw the flames,” he said. “The police gave us great support and we evacuated quickly.”


Sylvie Corbet in Paris, John Leicester in Le Pecq, France and Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Paris police look at gas leak as possible cause of explosion and fire that injured 24 (2024)


Paris police look at gas leak as possible cause of explosion and fire that injured 24? ›

Paris police look for cause of explosion and fire that injured 24 people The explosion rocked a building, igniting a fire that sent smoke soaring over monuments and prompting an evacuation. Police were investigating suspicions that a gas leak caused the blast.

What caused the explosion in Paris today? ›

Police officials told reporters that a preliminary investigation appears to show a suspected gas leak may have been the cause, but the probe is ongoing. The U.S. Embassy said it was not aware of any Americans involved in the incident. Firefighters use a water canon as they fight a blaze, June 21, 2023 in Paris.

Do gas leak explosions cause fire? ›

A gas leak is more likely to cause carbon monoxide poisoning than cause a fire, but the combination of gas and air creates an explosive element which increases the likelihood of ignition.

What is explosion due to gas leakage? ›

A gas explosion is a process where combustion of a premixed gas cloud, that is, fuel–air or fuel/oxidizers causing rapid increase of pressure [15]. The pressure generated by the combustion wave will depend on how fast the flame propagates and how the pressure expands away from the gas cloud (governed by confinement).

What time was the Paris gas explosion? ›

The blast occurred at 4:55 pm local time, just as workers were heading home.

Why was the immediate cause of rioting in Paris? ›

The high price of bread

was the immediate cause for rioting in Paris.

What caused the fire in Paris Texas? ›

Its cause is unknown, but one theory is that a spark from a switch engine ignited dry grass near the warehouse. Winds estimated at 50 miles per hour soon blew the fire out of control as it burned a funnel-shaped path to the northeast edge of Paris.

How likely is a gas leak to explode? ›

A natural gas leak can create an explosion if there is an ignition source and the leak is severe enough. While this is fairly rare, gas leaks are incredibly dangerous and should be handled with urgency.

How to tell if gas is leaking? ›

1. Learn how to detect the signs and symptoms of a natural gas leak in your home.
  1. The smell of rotten eggs. In its natural state, natural gas is odorless and colorless. ...
  2. Hissing sounds. ...
  3. Air bubbles outside your home. ...
  4. Dead or dying plants. ...
  5. Physical symptoms of natural gas poisoning. ...
  6. Higher-than-normal gas usage.

Can you survive a gas leak explosion? ›

Those who are fortunate enough to survive natural gas explosions can suffer third-degree burns, traumatic brain injuries, loss of limbs, blindness, and extreme emotional trauma. Victims of explosions often require extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, and long-term physical therapy.

What is the most common cause of gas explosion? ›

Some common causes include:

Old, rusty gas lines or ones that are damaged that run from the street into your home. Defective gas-operated equipment. Improper use of gas furnaces, stoves or other gas appliances. Gas appliances that have been poorly or incorrectly installed.

How do gas explosions happen in houses? ›

Some common causes include: Gas Leaks: The most common cause of natural gas explosions is a leak in the gas supply system. Gas leaks can occur due to damaged or aging pipelines, faulty connections, or poorly maintained appliances.

What is the most common cause of gas leaks? ›

Old, unmaintained appliances are a common cause of gas leaks. Over time, corroded valves, hoses, and pipes in appliances can lead to leaks. Make sure to properly maintain and repair your appliances with quality replacement parts.

Why did Germany not bomb Paris? ›

His motivation not to destroy the city may have been in part because it was a futile and destructive gesture, but also in order to ensure his better treatment after capitulation. The memoirs also state that he was persuaded to spare the city in part by an all-night meeting with Nordling on the night of 24 August.

What is June 21 in Paris? ›

For the last 43 years in France, the 21st June is not just the longest day of the year but also the day of the fête de la musique. This "festival of music" is no ordinary festival. Created in France in 1982, it has been taken up by neighbouring countries where it has been just as successful.

When did Paris sink? ›

But between 1774 and 1776, there was a series of collapses of the Parisian ground, the most serious of which took place at the level of the Denfert-Rochereau street where 300 meters were engulfed!

What started the riots in Paris? ›

Riots have broken out in Paris and other French cities after a teenage boy was shot dead by police during a traffic stop.

What is causing air pollution in Paris? ›

Pollution from cars and trucks seems to be the number one offender, with vehicle exhaust containing many dangerous chemicals that permeate the smoke found in the city, the main ones being Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) as well as Ozone (O3) and a number of other chemicals, including lead and Carbon ...

Why was Paris flooded? ›

By late January, the Seine River flooded Paris when water pushed upwards from overflowing sewers and subway tunnels, then seeped into basem*nts through fully saturated soil and from the sewer system that got backed up, which led to the basem*nts of several buildings sustaining damage.

Why did the siege of Paris happen? ›

In order to end the Franco-Prussian War, the Germans besieged Paris, beginning on September 19, 1870. The length of the siege helped to salve French pride, but it also left bitter political divisions.

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