1 person critically injured in explosion at Westminster apartment complex Sunday morning

WESTMINSTER, Colo. - Fire investigators said a gas leak in the laundry room is responsible for an explosion at a Westminster apartment complex that hurt six people, one critically.

The explosion happened just after 10 a.m. in the B building of the Lakeview Apartments, at 68th Avenue and Lowell Boulevard.

"I was sitting on the couch and boom!  I got my stuff and ran," said resident Coby Wilderman. "It sounded like a bomb ... smoke and people running everywhere, going crazy, it was pretty chaotic, pretty scary."

The fire department arrived quickly and extinguished the fire within 9 minutes.  Thirteen units from five agencies responded to the incident.

Kane Deden said his brother, Tingham Mounkeophilakham, was drying his clothes, likely unaware gas was leaking from the supply to the drier until it was too late.

"This was still on his body.  I [said] you better take off right away," Deden said as he held up his brother's melted jacket.

Mounkeophilakham suffered severe burns to his face and hands.  He was taken to University Hospital where he remains intubated in the burn center.

"To be in a room that's so small with a blast that's so large, he's lucky he was able to walk out from this on his own," said Jeff Wofford of the Westminster Fire Department.

7NEWS has confirmed 8 minutes before the explosion, a resident went to the office and complained of a gas smell.  Wofford said records show management logged the complaint, but they likely didn't have time to check it out because the blast happened minutes later.

Two other people are hospitalized, but their condition is not available, Wofford said.

About 80 residents of the building were evacuated to the complex clubhouse.

Other residents said the blast was so strong it shook the neighboring building and set off car alarms in the neighborhood.

"I just went down there and looked at the situation, grabbed the fire extinguisher, tried to put out the fire but it didn't work," said Eric McKinney, another resident.  "I decided to try and evacuate everybody out of the building and me and another person went around knocking on everybody's building trying to get everybody out.

The explosion and fire damaged 21 units.  Residents won't be allowed back in until power and water are restored which could take three to four days.

The American Red Cross opened a shelter at the Crossroads American Baptist Church in Thornton for those displaced by the fire.

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