Neighbors free victim from explosion rubble - WNEM TV 5


Neighbors free victim from explosion rubble

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Investigators are working to determine what caused a house to explode on the city's southeast side, leaving four people injured.

Two adults in the house at the time are in critical condition at a Kansas City hospital and two children have been released.

The explosion was reported at East 92nd Street and Tennessee Avenue about 6:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Witnesses say there was no time to wait for emergency crews to arrive and at least five neighbors went into the burning home, trying to rescue those inside and putting their own lives at risk at the same time.

"Mrs. Love's son is in there, and he says, 'I found someone.' And as I look I see the gentleman there lying on the ground. Mrs. Love's son digs him out. I just go in, and we begin to start to pull him out, pull him to safety," neighbor Bryan Lott said.

Tony Reames and his roommate Ernie McClellan looked out and couldn't believe what they saw.

"It was one large boom. I was upstairs in the house at the back and I felt the house shake," Reames said.

"I could see the flames and I could see their fireplace and stuff, but it didn't dawn on me that the exterior wall was gone and I was actually looking through the house until I came upstairs and came outside," McClellan said.

The two men were some of the small group that rushed over to help. They said they were able to get the two women, two children and one man out pretty quickly, but the homeowner was trapped in the basement under debris.

"It was hard to move him because he couldn't move and we didn't want to hurt him more. And explosions were going off. So someone brought a tarp over and we got him on that and that way we could just lift the tarp because no one could lift him because his skin was so hot and peeling away," McClellan said.

A man, his wife, a male friend, their daughter and three other children were at home at the time.

The man suffered the worst injuries. His friend also left with critical injuries. A 4-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl suffered minor injuries. Firefighters say the third child in the house was not injured.

Neighbors said they heard two explosions that sounded like a transformer and saw the house in flames.

One KCTV5 viewer said she was only blocks away at East 90th Terrace and Tennessee when she heard the loud noise.

"I was out looking at a house a few blocks away and heard a loud explosion. As we were exiting the neighborhood we came upon the house. It looked like it popped open at the seams! It kept exploding, lots of fire. It was terrible. I'll be keeping that family and those that tried to help them in my thoughts, I hope they end up okay," Amber Blackburn wrote.

The Kansas City Police Department's bomb and arson squad as well as Red Cross was also called to the location, per standard procedure.

Investigators say the house is heavily damaged and they might not be able to determine what started the fire. ATF investigators were hoping to stabilize the home to get inside Thursday and search for clues about the cause, but stormy weather slowed them down. They plan to get into the house on Friday.

"It is really scary, because I still don't know what happened. I'm still on edge trying to figure out if it was a gas leak or what could have caused it," neighbor Tiffany Crocket said.

Neighbor Juanita Jones also first thought a transformer blew up until she saw the flames and heard the cries for help.

"Just heard this loud boom noise. Like something had blew up and I looked out the window and the house was on fire. Flames coming up," she said. "It was so sad, the kids were just screaming and hollering and the wife is upset and that's understandable. She was just screaming for her husband. He was still in the house."

There was talk in the neighborhood that homemade fireworks could be to blame.

"Everything is on the table right now. It could be fireworks, it could be any number of things. Until we get in there and start ruling things out, there are lots of possibilities. The only thing we ruled out is natural gas," said John Ham, a spokesperson for ATF.

Neighbors said they just really want to know how the victims are doing.

"We are concerned about the family. We just want to make sure they are Ok," Jones said.

KCTV5's Dave Jordan, Emily Rittman and Sandra Olivas contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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