Prince William house explodes, injuring man

Fire officials in Prince William County say a gas leak may have led to a Monday morning explosion that leveled a Dumfries house, injuring a 45-year-old man inside.

The explosion, which occurred shortly after 8 a.m. in a two-story home in the 19000-block of Wayne Drive, shook nearby homes and sent startled residents running outside. Three neighbors rushed over and helped the injured man from the wreckage, fire officials said.

“I dropped right down to my knees,” said James Ezzell, 31, who lives two doors away. “My house was shaking. Doors were moving. I served in Iraq, and it was kind of the same feeling I’d experienced” there.

Prince William Assistant Fire Chief Brett Bowman said firefighters smelled a “heavy gas odor” when they arrived at the home.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation, but fire officials said a preliminary inquiry showed there was a gas leak at the home. A small fire broke out but was contained, officials said. Several cars and some nearby homes were damaged by flying debris.

The injured man, whose name was not released, suffered second-degree burns and lacerations and was flown to Washington Hospital Center, authorities said. Bowman said that the man was alert at the scene and that his injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

Fire officials said that the home had recently been renovated and that new residents were scheduled to move in. They said they think the injured man, who was either selling or renting the home, planned to meet with a housing inspector Monday.

Residents in the neighborhood are accustomed to hearing the sounds of training exercises at the nearby Quantico Marine base, and Ezzell said his first thought was that something might have gone wrong at the base.

“I ran outside and saw the house in ruins,” said Ezzell, whose home was damaged by debris. “Pieces of the insulation were falling like snow, and you could smell the gas.”

Fire officials said that the gas line in the neighborhood has been secured by Columbia Gas and that the neighborhood is safe.

Staff researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

 
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