Explosion Blows Back Off SE Home

WASHINGTON -- A man suffered burns and a house sustained serious damage when something exploded Wednesday afternoon.

"I ain't never heard nothing that loud before," neighbor Roy Tolbert told News 4.  "It was a big boom, and the ground shook."

Neighbors ran to the scene to find the windows blown out, the door blown off the house and an entire side of the house demolished. 

D.C. Fire and EMS units arrived at the home in the 1100 block of 46th Street SE just after 3:30 p.m. and saw smoke and fire coming from the back of the house.

Neighbors said Vernon McCoy lives in that home.  He was inside that home when it exploded.  Witnesses said he stumbled to the back yard, screaming for help.

Those who know McCoy describe him as a kind neighbor.

"He was a good person.  When we needed help, he would always lend us a hand.  We can count on him for everything, " next door neighbor Tomasa Bonilla said.

Investigators still don't know what caused the blast.

"It could've most likely been something heavier than air," D.C. Fire Chief Dennis Rubin told News 4. "Perhaps LP gas or some type of ammo, or even a flammable liquid.  We're just not sure at this point."

The fire was knocked down initially, but flames shot up later. Rubin said no firefighters were allowed inside the building because of structural problems. Fire officials remained on the scene overnight because of concerns the house could collapse. A demolition crew is expected to knock the home down, though a final decision on that has not been made. But first, investigators went into the home Thursday to try to find answers.

Among the things they're looking in to are utilities, and neighbors said power was cut off in the area Wednesday because of utility work. The explosion took place after power was restored.

McCoy, who is in his 40s, suffered second- and third-degree burns to 90 percent of his body and is in critical condition. No other injuries were reported.  A dog was also rescued from the home.

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