Volunteers for the American Red Cross responded to incident

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AZTEC — A gas explosion at an Aztec apartment injured one man on Aug. 18 and displaced multiple residents as the explosion damaged the apartment building.

The Aztec fire and police departments were dispatched at approximately 8:49 a.m. Aug. 18 to 118 W. Chuska St. after receiving reports of an explosion, according to Lt. Joseph Gonzales.

The explosion injured one man, who suffered some burns to his back. He was transported to San Juan Regional Medical Center for treatment.

Aztec police do not believe there is anything suspicious regarding the incident, which Lt. Gonzales described as an accident or malfunction.

He said city crews have been to the scene and the city engineer was set to visit the scene on Aug. 19.

The windows and door on the apartment where the explosion occurred were missing when The Daily Times visited the 110 block of West Chuska Street the morning after the explosion.

Jacqualin Medina and her family live in apartment unit just to the south of where the explosion occurred. A small hallway connects their apartment with the unit where the explosion happened.

She felt overwhelmed by the amount of damage while preparing a list of damages for the landlord on Aug. 19.

Cracks from the explosion can be seen on the exterior of the building. Medina pointed out areas where sections of the wall were missing from the neighboring apartment where the explosion happened.

Medina, her fiancé Joseph Hill and her six-year-old daughter were in their living room preparing to watch a movie when the explosion occurred.

The explosion blew out the windows in the living room and bedroom, sending glass flying – including a piece that became embedded in the bedroom wall.

"When I was sitting on the couch, you could see all of that on fire right there," Medina said, describing the apartment where the explosion occurred.

Medina's daughter was not injured. Hill received a couple of scrapes from the glass as the family tried to collect their belongings following the explosion.

Medina found some glass in her hair when she took a shower after the explosion in their motel room.

A crew that arrived on scene at approximately 11:30 a.m. the next day told Medina they had been sent to board up the building.

A press release for the New Mexico chapter of the American Red Cross said 24 apartment units were affected and 48 people were displaced after the explosion.

Medina questioned the figure issued by the American Red Cross. She estimated around 13 apartments were affected and about 18 to 19 people displaced.

Medina added the American Red Cross volunteers were extremely friendly and kind as they collected info from the residents after the explosion.

Volunteers were set to meet with displaced residents again during the afternoon on Aug. 19 to discuss housing, Medina said.

How to help

Jim Gilloon, a Regional Communication Manager for American Red Cross, said the best way to help the residents displaced by the explosion is to donate directly to the humanitarian organization. Donations can be made at www.redcross.org or text RedCross to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Volunteers conducted one-on-one assessments with the displaced residents to determine what kind of relief they could provide, according to Gilloon.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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