Fire investigators hope to finally enter a northeast Washington rowhouse that exploded Wednesday afternoon, killing at least one person.
Crews were called to a 4-unit rowhouse at 16th and Isherwood streets NE around 3:45 p.m.
Charles Allen, a Democratic nominee for D.C. Council, lives near the area and called 911 when his windows rattled following what he called a huge explosion.
"I ran outside and a lot of folks on the street thought there may have been a car collision, then we saw the back of this house completely missing, flames coming up, so I called 911 then we ran over to the house," he explained. "It looked like the flames went really fast, and moved to the units both to the left and right of it," Allen said.
According to D.C. Fire, the flames were under control just after 5 p.m., though firefighters remained on scene to prevent any hotspots from rekindling.
The home was so badly damaged a chimney collapsed on a nearby car. The blast left behind broken window panes of homes next door.
A resident of the building, 46-year-old Chris Christofi, died, according to his family.
"We just can't believe the size of the explosion in the back. Bricks are blown out on the floor. We can't imagine he would have survived the blast," Christofi's family said.
A woman living nearby recalled the hectic scene.
"We heard so much screaming for 30 seconds and then at once it just stopped," she said.
One of Christofi's neighbors was able to get out in time, though he was visibly shaken.
"I [feel] numb, I just don't really know what to do. I'm here, my fiancee is here, we're healthy and we have that going for us," he said.
Fire crews said they couldn't go inside the home initially to search for survivors due to instability of the structure.
Sources told News4's Pat Collins the fire is being investigated as a crime scene, though it'll take time to determine what exactly caused the blast.
Neighbors say someone complained of a gas odor about 2 weeks prior to the accident and crews immediately made repairs.
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