Gas explosion at construction site rattles nearby shoppers

CONCORD, N.C. - Officials evacuated a large shopping mall Sunday after a natural gas explosion at a nearby construction site shot flames and debris 100 feet into the air.

Carolina Power & Light said the explosion was caused when a bulldozer at the construction site ruptured a 16-inch North Carolina Natural Gas line.

Everyone at the site was accounted for, and firefighters were putting out the flames, said Sherry Lee, a spokeswoman for the Concord Fire Department. One construction worker was treated for first-degree burns, she said.

The construction site was several hundred yards from Concord Mills mall and several freestanding restaurants, all off Interstate 85 about 20 miles northeast of Charlotte. Mall officials said the construction site was not part of the mall's property.

Hundreds of shoppers were inside the mall, and many said they could feel the heat and vibrations.

George McCullough III, who was at the mall with his wife, said he thought an aircraft had crashed. ''I could feel it under my feet,'' he said.


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