2 injured in South Austin apartment explosion



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Posted on March 27, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 31 at 3:59 AM

AUSTIN -- Austin firefighters are investigating an explosion at 7707 South I-35 at the Waters at Bluff Springs Apartments.

The explosion occurred around 11 a.m. in a second floor apartment. The explosion did not spark a fire, but investigators say twelve surrounding apartments were damaged. The entire building was evacuated.

"There was a flash explosion, but no sustained fire," Battalion Chief Thayer Smith said.

Two people, a male and female, were taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with broken bones and burns before being taken to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio via Star Flight. The hospital has a specialized burn center.

Austin-Travis County EMS says both victims have second-degree burns on 20 percent of their upper bodies.

"I just saw a guy jumping out with his shirt off and he was running. I didn't know what to do but I had my shoes on. I grabbed my purse and I just got out," said neighbor Samantha Magana. "Then I heard a woman screaming so we went to the other side and she was coming out and limping. Her ankle was pretty much falling off, or like hanging on, and she had blood everywhere, her shirt was a little torn."

Smith said several 911 calls came in after the blast.

"One of the 911 calls we received did mention the possibility of a meth lab," he said.

Austin police say the people were cooking marijuana trying to extract THC, and somehow it exploded with the propane tanks in the apartment.

"They use some of these boiling points to try to extract THC from marijuana - the hash," Lt. Lt. Norris McKenzie said.

McKenzie is with the Organized Crime Division of the Austin Police Department. He manages the Gang and Narcotics Conspiracy Unit. He said somehow the pressure built up, and caused an explosion with propane tanks inside.

"Having propane inside of an apartment, that's not normal," he said.

The two people in the hospital are considered suspects and are being questioned, as well as another person, over what caused this $85,000 morning mess.

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