On Friday at 4:18AM, the fire station in the Southern California city of Riverside got a call about an explosion that leveled a house and shook the earth on Cochise Drive. The irruption was so powerful that it ended up igniting another home and damaging another. Fortunately, no one was injured from the blast, despite neighbors getting a rude wakeup call.
Firefighters arrived on the scene and found the house “completely blown up,” Captain Bruce Vanderhorst told ABC7 News. The home was reduced to a pile of burnt black scraps surrounded by mangled metal; a fountain of flames spitting in the center.
Eight fire trucks were called in on the scene to extinguish the flames emitting from the burst gas meter.
The house was undergoing renovation and was left vacant. One firefighter on the scene commented that, “the last three days the house has been under renovation. The last three days they have been working on it [and] restoring it. For that, we don’t know [what caused it] – our arsenal team is on [the] scene and they’ll be doing an investigation.”
According to ABC News, the Southern California Gas Company officials said that a preliminary investigation determined the gas main pipeline and service line up in the gas meter were in safe operational condition with no detection of leakage.
Vanderhorst believes that the cause of the explosion was due to gas building up inside the house.
"We heard an explosion, and we got out of our bed, and when I came into the front room, both windows on that side of the house, the far side of the house, nothing but fire and flames," Wayne Keller told KABC-TV, standing outside of his home that took damage from the exploding house nearby; their garage door was blown inward, along with a collapsed chimney.
“It was mayhem; you could hear the gas line just going like crazy.” He added.
Other neighbors raised their concerns about the booming blast.
“I thought it was an earthquake. My son said it sounded like a car hitting our house,” Mary Holley told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
"There [were] massive embers all over the place. I got my hose out and tried to just keep my roof wet,” said Craig Erickson to KABC-TV, another neighbor who felt the shock of the explosion.
Foul play has been ruled out by officials who are still determining the cause of the explosion.