NATIONAL NEWS

Leaking underground propane tank found at Virginia home before deadly house explosion

Feb 17, 2024, 8:16 AM

STERLING, Va. (AP) — When firefighters arrived at a home in a Washington, D.C., suburb to investigate a report about a gas smell Friday night, they discovered a 500-gallon underground propane tank with a leak on the side of the residence.

A short time later, the house exploded and burst into flames, with multiple mayday calls coming from the firefighters trapped inside. Crews rushed in to try to rescue them from the debris that covered them, but one firefighter was killed and nine others were injured, Loudoun County Fire and Rescue officials said in a news release.

The origin and cause of the explosion is under investigation. Authorities did not say if they believe the propane tank leak caused the explosion.

James Williams, assistant chief of operations, said the firefighters’ injuries range from limited to severe. Two other people were also injured and treated at hospitals for injuries that were not life-threatening.

Williams described damage to the home in Sterling as “total devastation.”

“There’s a debris field well into the street and into the neighboring homes,” he said Friday during a news conference.

Sterling is located about 22 miles (35 kilometers) northwest of Washington, D.C.

In a news release Saturday, Loudoun County Fire and Rescue said the emergency communications center received a 911 call reporting a gas odor shortly after 7:30 p.m. Friday. After firefighters found the leak in the underground propane tank, they requested a hazardous materials response team and additional units and safety officers. The house exploded a short time later.

A neighbor, John Padgett, told ABC7 News that he had smelled gas while walking his dog earlier.

The blast shook his home, he said.

“It looked like an inferno,” and insulation from the burning home fell like ash, he added. “It was horrific; it looked like something out of a war zone.”

Washington Gas issued a statement on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, saying it has company representatives on the scene and is assisting Loudoun County fire officials and other authorities in the investigation.

“We are verifying the integrity of our system in the surrounding area,” the company said. “Our hearts go out to those who were injured and to the Loudoun County Fire department for the loss of one of their own.”

The Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Fire Marshal’s Office was also on the scene Saturday and is investigating the origin and cause of the explosion.

“This is believed to be an isolated incident and there is no ongoing danger to the community,” Loudoun County Fire and Rescue said in a statement.

The body of the firefighter who died was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to determine the cause and manner of death.

National News

boeing starliner...

Frank Sumrall

Boeing Starliner’s return to Earth delayed indefinitely as it troubleshoots glitches

It could be another two weeks before the astronauts on the Boeing Starliner can return to Earth, extending a planned nine-day mission to more than a month.

43 minutes ago

Associated Press

Rail bridge collapses during Midwest flooding as a heat wave persists across much of the US

Millions of Americans sweated through a scorching weekend as temperatures soared across the U.S., while residents were rescued from floodwaters that forced evacuations across the Midwest. One person died during flooding in South Dakota, the governor said. From the mid-Atlantic to Maine, across the Great Lakes region, and throughout the West to California, public officials […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

3 Columbia University administrators put on leave over alleged text exchange at antisemitism panel

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia University said it has placed three administrators on leave while it investigates allegations that they exchanged unprofessional text messages while attending a panel discussion about antisemitism on campus. The university said the administrators work for its undergraduate Columbia College, which hosted the panel discussion “Jewish Life on Campus: Past, Present […]

16 hours ago

Associated Press

Man charged in shooting that critically wounded Philadelphia officer, police say

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A 36-year-old Philadelphia man was charged Sunday with attempted murder in connection with a shooting that critically wounded a police officer after a traffic stop, police said. Ramon Rodriguez Vazquez also faces charges that include aggravated assault and home invasion, police said. The 31-year-old officer and his partner stopped a car carrying […]

17 hours ago

Associated Press

California boy, 4, who disappeared from campground found safe after 22 hours alone in wilderness

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A 4-year-old California boy who wandered away from a campground in the Sierra National Forest was found safe after spending 22 hours alone in the wilderness, authorities said. A search-and-rescue team of about 50 officers and volunteers set out around 11 a.m. Thursday after the child was reported missing from the […]

19 hours ago

Associated Press

One man died and five others were hospitalized in downtown St. Louis shooting

ST. LOUIS (AP) — One man is dead and five others have been wounded in a downtown St. Louis shooting, police said. Police believe women were fighting in a park when men stepped in and drew firearms, according to a statement from St. Louis police. The man who died likely was in his mid-twenties and […]

19 hours ago

Leaking underground propane tank found at Virginia home before deadly house explosion