Explosion sparks house collapse, fire

February 8, 2008 10:03:44 AM PST
Fire investigators suspect natural gas might have sparked an explosion inside a house on Thursday afternoon.

The rowhouse at 709 South 6th Street between Bainbridge and Fitzwater Streets collapsed following an explosion just before 4:00.

People could hear the blast from several blocks away.

"There was a colossal kaboom and it felt like the whole earth shook," said Salvatore Sandone, who was teaching martial arts around the corner. He was just getting the after school program started when mortar, brick and other debris went flying.

"It's kind of like wow. We're about to have a situation, so let's get the kids out of here," said Sandone.

Roy Dillon was making a delivery a half a block away. He saw the building collapse.

"I just heard a whistling noise and as I looked over I heard a boom. All the windows came out and the whole front came down," said Dillon.

Firefighters arrived and began hosing down the rubble. Fortunately, no one was inside the house when it exploded.

Firefighters were able to keep the fire and subsequent damage mostly contained. James Depree owns an art gallery and duplex two doors down. A front window cracked, but that's the extent of the damage.

"We're fortunate. None of the paintings inside the gallery fell. We had no water damage. No water damage from the roof and we have no smoke damage," said Dupree.

The owners of 707 South 6th street were not so fortunate. The adjacent buildings also sustained severe water damage.

The Red Cross says about a half dozen people have been displaced by this fire. They were all staying with relatives and friends Thursday night.