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Three of the five New Iberia firefighters injured in a Hopkins Street gas explosion Thursday have been released from area hospitals, while the two others have undergone surgery for their injuries.

New Iberia Fire Chief Gordon Copell issued an update on the condition of the men Friday afternoon. In it, he said two firefighters had been treated for heat exhaustion at Iberia Medical Center and both had been released.

Two others were sent to Baton Rouge General Hospital burn unit for treatment of burns to their arms and hands. One has been released, while the other had surgery Thursday and remains in the hospital's care.

The fifth firefighter was transported to Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Lafayette, where he underwent surgery Friday morning. Copell said they are awaiting a report on that firefighter's condition.

"The New Iberia Fire Department would like to thank everyone and all the agencies that assisted in yesterday’s incident," Copell wrote in the statement. "The coordination and support that the families have received from around our great state was both astonishing and appreciated."

The Office of the State Fire Marshal is continuing its investigation into the blaze and explosion which occurred around 10 a.m. Thursday in a prefabricated building in the 800 block of Hopkins Street.

According to a statement Friday from the SFM, inspectors determined that the fire started on the back side of the building, but the exact cause and source of ignition are still unknown. Investigators did confirm the presence of excess natural gas, which was a contributing factor in the conflagration.

State Fire Marshal deputies will continue investigating the circumstances surrounding the explosion as well as the origin and cause of the incident.

“We are keeping these firefighters, their families, and the New Iberia Fire Department in our prayers,” said State Fire Marshal Chief H. “Butch” Browning, “Our folks are working diligently with all involved agencies to determine as much information as possible about what happened so we can try to prevent a terrible situation like this from happening again.”

Dwayne Fatherree is the community editor for The Daily Iberian. He can be reached at dwayne.fatherree@daily-iberian.com.

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