BRIDGEPORT - An apparent gas explosion sparked a fire inside a Bridgeport boarding house that left one person dead and more than a dozen homeless.

Witnesses say the explosion they heard just before 2:30 p.m. seemed to come from the back corner of the building along West Avenue.

Officials say when they arrived at the scene, they found heavy flames and smoke pouring out of the building. Inside they discovered a man who was already dead.

Firefighters say at one point during the rescue they had to evacuate the building because of the danger posed by a gas leak. They are not sure how many people reside at the boarding house.

"Once we got the gas shut off, they went back in and we proceeded to do our job," says Battalion Chief Christopher Martin, of the Bridgeport Fire Department.

The Red Cross is helping those who were left homeless find temporary housing.