Fire and police investigators on Thursday morning began digging through the rubble of a southeast Kansas City house that was destroyed by an explosion that also damaged two nearby homes.
Using a specially trained dog and an excavator, investigators looked for the cause of the explosion that basically obliterated the single-story ranch house at 7704 E. 113th St., near the street’s intersection with Ruskin Way.
The house, neighbors said, had been vacant for at least two months.
Brenda Williams, who lives at 7702 E. 113th, said her sister, Janetta Burris, was lying down when the house next door exploded at 8:14 p.m. Wednesday.
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“She had just gotten home from work” a couple hours earlier, Williams said. “She said she smelled gas.”
Burris tried to determine where the gas smell was coming from and even called a neighbor.
Burris, who suffered minor injuries, was in a room that was exposed to the destroyed house.
The force of the explosion caved in that side of the house, blew out some windows and even damaged the garage on the opposite side.
“Basically their roof is inside my house,” Williams said. The explosion pretty much destroyed her house too.
Williams said her sister was fine and suffered minor injuries.
The explosion spread debris around the yards of the houses in the immediate area. Broken glass was was everywhere in the street.
Students took snapshots of the rubble with their cellphones while they waited for a school bus.
Tevin Ersery, who lives about five doors down from the destroyed house, said he had stepped outside when the house exploded.
“As soon as I stepped into driveway, all you heard was a boom,” Ersery said. “You know it was like in a movie when something shrinks and all of a sudden it gets bigger and then there’s a loud boom.”
Ersery said he checked on family members’ doors who also live in the area to make sure they and others on the block were okay.
Ersery said he had never seen anything like it.
Ersery said he noticed a gas smell at 7 a.m. Wednesday when he had gotten up to go to work.
Idell McGuire, who lives in the neighborhood, told The Star she had called Missouri Gas Energy about noon to report the strong odor of natural gas.
The company sent a person who checked her house and two others, but not the one that blew up, she said.
Fire officials could not confirm Wednesday night whether natural gas caused the explosion.
“The house is pretty much flattened,” Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi said. “It’s just a pile of sticks.”
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