FAIRBORN, Ohio » A house exploded in western Ohio on Saturday, sending six people, including three young children, to hospitals with burns and leaving one person missing, officials said.
Work was being done on the duplex’s water line when the gas line was struck and ruptured, causing the explosion, Fairborn Fire Marshal Carl Day said. It is unclear whether anyone died in the blast. Investigators were still piecing together how many people lived in the duplex and where they were when the explosion occurred.
The house was demolished, throwing debris and the victims — including an infant — into the yard. Hours later, crews were still searching the rubble for the unaccounted person, believed to be an older man, Day said.
Neighbor Cybil Poole told the Dayton Daily News (http://bit.ly/rJOh4f) that the explosion, which occurred 100 meters from her house, felt like a car hitting it. She said she saw the infant was burned, bloodied and covered in glass, and some of the other victims were still on fire.
"It was horrible. It was like a movie scene. You see this huge fireball and you see people come out of it on fire," she said. "If everybody made it out of there alive, it’s truly a blessing."
Another neighbor, Paula Corelli, told the newspaper that she was almost hit by a flying piece of wood from the explosion. When she saw two adults running down the sidewalk carrying three bloodied children, she offered to take them while the adults returned to the scene.
"Medics told me to keep them awake because they had head injuries, so we sang to them, me and another woman," Corelli said. "And we didn’t let them look back. It was still on fire and there was a lot of blood."
Some of the victims were airlifted to hospitals.
Day said four juveniles were among the injured: three children, ages 1, 3 and 5, as well as a teenager.
They were taken to Dayton Children’s Medical Center, where the infant was listed in critical condition. Another child was still being examined, while two were expected to be treated and released, spokesman Terry Fink said.
The adult victims were taken to Miami Valley Hospital, where a supervisor declined to describe the extent of their injuries, citing privacy laws.
Homes on both sides of the destroyed house suffered broken-out windows and other damage. Debris could be seen a block away, the Dayton Daily News reported.
The gas was turned off to the house that exploded after the fire was put out, Day said. Several houses in the neighborhood were evacuated as a precaution, but some of the residents were allowed to return several hours later.
"Our focus right now is making the scene safe and tending to the victims," said Chase Kelley, a spokeswoman for Vectren Corp.
Kelley said it hasn’t been confirmed that there was a gas leak and the company would likely conduct its own investigation into the cause of the explosion.