'Total devastation': Home explodes with firefighters inside, killing one and injuring nine

By John Mercury February 17, 2024

One firefighter has been killed and nine others were injured after an explosion in a house where they were investigating a gas leak, US officials say.

Two civilians were also injured in the blast, which happened in Sterling, Virginia, at around 8pm local time on Friday (1am on Saturday UK time).

The fiery explosion occurred about 30 minutes after fire crews were called to the property due to reports of a gas smell.

It happened while firefighters were inside the building, James Williams, assistant chief of operations for Loudon County Fire and Rescue, said at a news conference.

First responders carry an injured person away after explosion. Pic: AP
First responders carry an injured person away after the explosion. Pic: AP

First responders arrive at the scene. Pic: AP
Pic: AP

“Soon after arrival, with firefighters inside, the house did explode,” Mr Williams said.

He added the nine firefighters and two civilians who were injured were taken to hospital with injuries ranging from “limited to severe”.

“We have all firefighters out of the building. The fire will continue to smoulder,” Mr Williams said.

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He described damage to the home as “total devastation”, adding: “There’s a debris field well into the street and into the neighbouring homes.”

Mr Williams said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

The Sterling Volunteer Fire Company said in a post on X that its crews had responded to a report of a gas leak before the blast.

A neighbour, John Padgett, told ABC7 News he had smelled gas while walking his dog earlier.

The blast shook his home, he said.

“It looked like an inferno. It was horrific; it looked like something out of a war zone.”


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