- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2003

PHOENIX, March 19 (UPI) — Rescuers in Phoenix feared an early-morning explosion and fire at an apartment complex might have killed as many as 10 residents and injured another seven, the Arizona Republic said Wednesday.

Two blasts ripped through the two-story Hazeltree Apartments on the city's east side around 1 a.m. MST Wednesday as more than 300 residents slept. There were no indications that the explosion was a terrorist incident.

Broken natural gas pipes in the rubble hindered the search for victims and made it difficult for firefighters to determine how many people might have died.

"It could be as many as 10, and it could be as few as one," Fire Department spokesman Bob Khan told the newspaper. "We have some conflicting reports."

He said seven residents were treated for injuries at the scene.

The Republic said that although the possibility of a natural gas leak was being investigated, a handyman who had recently been evicted from the complex was being sought for questioning. The explosion apparently originated in the man's old apartment.

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