Make your home page

Fire erupts in central Paris after gas explosion

Firemen use a water canon as they fight a blaze Wednesday, June 21, 2023 in Paris. Firefighters fought a blaze on Paris' Left Bank that is sent smoke soaring over the domed Pantheon monument and prompted evacuation of buildings in the neighborhood, police said. Local media cited witnesses describing a large explosion preceding the fire, and saying that part of a building collapsed. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Paris (CNN) — A fiery gas explosion in central Paris resulted in injuries to at least 29 people and drew hundreds of firefighters to the scene on Wednesday afternoon.

Some 270 firefighters were deployed to the scene near Rue Saint Jacques in the city’s fifth arrondissement, and have contained the fire, Paris police chief Laurent Nunez told reporters.

Four people were “critically injured” in the incident, police told CNN.

Video from the scene showed that part of a building that caught fire has collapsed.

Locals were also stopped from returning to their homes in surrounding streets by authorities.

One woman, Anne, told a CNN producer at the scene that she was inside her flat, around 500m from the site, when the explosion happened.

“It felt like an earthquake, the windows banged against each other,” she said.

Another woman who didn’t want to give her name and lives in a neighboring avenue told CNN that her doors slammed shut from the explosion.

The local deputy mayor Édouard Civel later explained in a tweet that the impact had been caused by a gas explosion.

According to Laurent, city prosecutors have opened an inquiry into “involuntary injury” – the term generally used when injury is caused by an accident.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo visited the scene later on Wednesday, writing in a tweet, “My thoughts go first of all to the victims and their close ones.”

Authorities in Paris have opened an emergency response unit to handle the aftermath of the explosion.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, currently in Nancy in eastern France for a conference, will cut short his trip and return to Paris, the interior ministry told media.