Gas Suspected in Fatal Omaha House Explosion

(AP) — An explosion that leveled a home in Omaha, Neb., killed two people and left two others critically injured, fire officials said.

The cause was not immediately released, but crews from the city’s natural gas utility were on the scene.

Firefighters who responded to the explosion found two people dead, Omaha Fire Department Battalion Chief Scott Fitzpatrick said. Two other people were rushed to a hospital. Their names were not immediately released.

The explosion also caused significant damage to homes on either side of the house that exploded, the chief said. The blast in south-central Omaha rained splintered lumber and other debris throughout the neighborhood, and witnesses said it was felt and heard miles away.

It’s not yet clear whether the explosion was caused by a natural gas leak, Tracey Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Utilities District told the Omaha World-Herald. MUD crews were called to the scene after the blast was reported, she said, but it’s not yet known whether anyone had called in about smelling natural gas.

Melanie Grabowski, who lives down the street from the house that exploded, told the Omaha World-Herald she had just returned home from walking her dog when the explosion occurred.

“I heard a massive boom, and my house shook,” Grabowski said. “I looked outside, and I saw debris flying in the air.”

Grabowski said she and her neighbors rushed to the house and found a young man sitting outside what was left of the house. Neighbors wrapped him in blankets and carried him across the street from the explosion site, she said.

“His clothes were burned off him,” she said.

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