The Latest: Firefighter thrown 20 feet by gas explosion

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) " The Latest on a gas explosion in a popular Portland, Oregon, shopping district (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

A firefighter who's being hailed as a hero for evacuating a building before a powerful gas explosion in a popular Portland, Oregon, shopping district says the blast threw him up to 20 feet.

Portland Fire & Rescue Lt. Peter St. John said Wednesday in an interview from his hospital bed that he blacked out after the blast and woke up in pain.

St. John underwent surgery into the evening Wednesday.

Fire Chief Mike Myers says St. John made several critical decisions that saved civilian lives and likely saved firefighters too.

The blast injured seven people, in addition to St. John.

Two other firefighters, two police officers and three civilians were hurt, but none of the injuries were life-threatening.

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8:45 a.m.

Authorities say three firefighters injured in a gas explosion in a popular Portland, Oregon, shopping district are doing well.

Portland Fire & Rescue Lt. Rich Chatman said Thursday that Lt. Peter St. John was in good spirits following surgery for a broken leg. The fire chief, who said St. John made several critical decisions that likely saved lives, visited him.

Chatman says construction workers cut a three-quarter-inch natural gas line outside a building Wednesday and gas collected inside. The ignition source inside the structure has yet to be determined.

The blast obliterated that building and damaged others.

Police Sgt. Pete Simpson said two officers also are recovering from "concussive-type" injuries. He said both tried to stay at the scene of the explosion and had to be ordered to go to the hospital.

Three civilians also were hurt.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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