As Tonya Gentry got her daughter ready for school Wednesday morning, she heard a loud explosion and thought a car had crashed outside her Independence home.
But when she looked outside, she saw smoke coming from a neighbor’s house across the street. She ran over. A door on the right side of the garage was missing. Inside, she saw flames.
She ran back home to call 911 while another neighbor helped a woman out of the burning house in the 16900 block of York Avenue, northeast of 39th Street and Lee’s Summit Road.
“She came out screaming, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’ ” Gentry said of the shaken neighbor, whose husband was not home when the explosion happened about 7:20 a.m. Wednesday.
Though firefighters arrived in less than five minutes, flames already had engulfed the home, Gentry said.
Smoke billowed into the air and could be seen more than a mile away, including from Interstate 70.
The home’s resident called 911 and reported the explosion at 7:19 a.m., said Deputy Chief Mark Carrick of the Independence Fire Department.
“She is fine and safe and checked out OK,” Carrick said.
Because of damage caused by the explosion, firefighters fought the blaze in a defensive mode. There was no interior fire attack, Carrick said.
More than 20 firefighters battled the fire.
Police do not believe the explosion was caused by any criminal activity, said Craig Brenner, Independence public information officer. Officers and representatives of Missouri Gas Energy sifted through debris Wednesday afternoon, looking for a cause, Brenner said.
Gentry expressed thanks that the explosion and fire did not injure her neighbor.
“I couldn’t believe she was still in there after that explosion. It is very scary knowing somebody was still in there.”
The Star’s Brian Burnes contributed to this report.