PARIS — An large explosion tore through a bakery in central Paris on Saturday morning, leaving smoke and flames and scattered debris in its wake, the authorities said.
There were reports of multiple injuries after the blast, which the authorities said was believed to have been an accident tied to a gas leak.
The Paris police prefecture said on Twitter that a fire had started in a shop on Rue de Trévise that had then been hit by a “strong explosion,” and that the number of injured was not yet clear.
Christophe Castaner, the Interior minister, told reporters on the scene later on Saturday that the situation was “under control” but that the human toll could be “serious.” About 200 firefighters and 100 police officers were there, he said.
Pictures on social media from witnesses at the scene showed a blackened store front at the corner of Rue Trévise and Rue Sainte Sécile, in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, with windows blown out, debris strewn around the street and fires still burning.
Other images showed damaged buildings and broken windows stretching for several blocks.
The explosion occurred on a residential street in an area of Paris that is also well-known to tourists, with many hotels and attractions nearby, including the Grévin wax museum and the Folies Bergère music hall.
Sylvain Maillard, a lawmaker who represents the area, told the BFM TV news channel that the blast had been “accidental” and that there were “probably wounded.”
One person wrote on Twitter: “Woke up to the apartment building shaking as if I had never left California … not an earthquake, but an explosion on Rue de Trévise not even a mile from me.”
Another person wrote of hearing screams. Photos showed firefighters helping people down a ladder after the blast. Residents told French television that firefighters had been responding to reports of a gas leak in the neighborhood and were ordering residents to turn off their gas supply and stay inside when the explosion occurred.
Many apartment buildings in Paris use gas for heating and other purposes, but deadly explosions due to leaks are rare. In 2016, an explosion caused by a gas leak in the 7th Arrondissement of Paris tore off the roof of an apartment building.
Paris and other cities around France were bracing on Saturday for a ninth week of protests by the “Yellow Vests” movement. The demonstrations have repeatedly turned violent, but there was no immediate sign that the explosion was in any way related to the protests.
The Yellow Vests are protesting against the social and economic policies of President Emmanuel Macron, who they perceive as out-of-touch with their everyday needs, but the demonstrations have morphed into wider discontent with the political and media elites.