INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – Investigators believe a natural gas leak may have been the cause of an explosion that destroyed a home in Independence off Vermont and Sterling Tuesday shortly after 1 p.m.
No people were hurt in the explosion, but the family lost several pets. Witnesses told FOX 4 they could hear and feel the boom as far as a mile away. Investigators are treating this as a natural gas explosion, though they say it’s too early in the investigation to know for sure.
Homeowner Jimmie Dorsey says he and his wife and son weren’t home when this happened, but said they’re devastated that their home of nearly 40 years is gone.
“I got pretty sick. And she got pretty sick, started crying. It’s a horrible thing. It’s something we’ll probably not going to get over for a long time,” said Dorsey.
Paramedics took two firefighters to the hospital for heat exhaustion. The battalion chief said the injuries were not considered severe.
Monica Ayers lives about a block away. She says she heard the boom and started running to look for survivors.
“Just looking for people. Just to see if I could find somebody. I found a dog, he was deceased, and I heard like a little whimper, and I saw a pudge-faced dog and I just grabbed him and pulled him out,” she said.
Ayers said the house was leveled.
“It was just a bunch of stuff that was inside a house, TV, installation, roof, everything just down on the ground. Every bit,” she said.
Ayers said she was running on instinct.
“Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? If you think somebody needs help, help them? I felt like if there was somebody in there and they needed help, I would want somebody to help me. I’m just glad that there was nobody in there because that would’ve been on my conscience forever because I didn’t save them if I could’ve,” said Ayers.
Other witnesses described what they heard and saw.
“I was sitting at home and my house just shook like an earthquake, like it broke windows and stuff. It was big,” said Juan Gallegos.
Another witness, Lora VanBecelaere, said, “It’s heart-wrenching. Because you know whatever it was, if there was life inside, it was gone. To see their furniture and their life just kind of poured out of their yard, it’s just heart-wrenching.”
Dorsey said even though his home is gone, he’s grateful his family is safe.
“If we wouldn’t have had to go to that meeting today, I guess we would’ve gotten blown up in that house. God must’ve been with us,” he said.
Investigators said Missouri Gas and Energy shut off natural gas to the home after the explosion. The homeowner told FOX 4 crews did some work on his gas dryer back in March or April, but nothing since then.
As of Tuesday afternoon, investigators were still on the scene combing through debris. The cause of the explosion remains unknown.