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House explosion kills 4-month-old, injures 2 adults

A natural gas explosion leveled a house in northern Charlotte Thursday night, killing a 1-year-old child and sending two adults to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Ninety minutes earlier, firefighters and Piedmont Natural Gas had been called to another home on the street, five houses down, after someone reported a strong odor of gas, said Charlotte Fire Department spokesman Capt. Mark Basnight.

Crews used meters around that house, but didn't detect any gas and left, Basnight said.

Then, about 7:45 p.m., the house exploded, hurling wood, bricks and insulation across Wellingford Street and shattering windows of houses nearby. The front door landed in a yard across the street.

Afterward, all that was left of the house was a pile of splintered wood. A mattress leaned on what used to be a wall and a 6-foot-tall flame shot out of a severed natural gas pipe.

Workers from the gas company were waiting to safely shut down the valve and had already cut gas to the rest of the block. Nearby houses were also evacuated.

Authorities were investigating what sparked the explosion.

“We're still trying to determine exactly what happened,” said David Trusty, a spokesman for Piedmont Natural Gas. “At this point, we're just not sure.”

He said he could not comment on Basnight's statement that gas company workers had been called to the scene before the explosion but had not detected a gas leak.

Authorities did not immediately identify the people who lived in the house. Neighbors standing outside said the family had moved into the house less than a month ago.

The toddler's body was found under the rubble, said MEDIC spokesman Eric Morrision. He said he couldn't comment on the extent of the adults' injuries.

Basnight said one of the adults was transported to the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill.

John McQueary had just gotten home from work and he was closing his eyes for a nap when “I just heard a boom. … I've seen stuff like that before, but never from that close.”

McQueary and his wife, Daisy, stood behind the police tape Thursday night, watching the flames and the activity of dozens of emergency personnel and waiting for the OK to check on the condition of their house. Daisy McQueary was headed to the store when the explosion happened.

The side of the couple's house where she often sits watching TV at night was hit hard.

“I'm glad I was going to the store,” she said. “I would have been sitting right there at that window.” Staff writer Steve Lyttle contributed.

A natural gas explosion leveled a house in northern Charlotte Thursday night, killing a 1-year-old child and sending two adults to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Ninety minutes earlier, firefighters and Piedmont Natural Gas had been called to another home on the street, five houses down, after someone reported a strong odor of gas, said Charlotte Fire Department spokesman Capt. Mark Basnight.

Crews used meters around that house, but didn't detect any gas and left, Basnight said.

Then, about 7:45 p.m., the house exploded, hurling wood, bricks and insulation across Wellingford Street and shattering windows of houses nearby. The front door landed in a yard across the street.

Afterward, all that was left of the house was a pile of splintered wood. A mattress leaned on what used to be a wall and a 6-foot-tall flame shot out of a severed natural gas pipe.

Workers from the gas company were waiting to safely shut down the valve and had already cut gas to the rest of the block. Nearby houses were also evacuated.

Authorities were investigating what sparked the explosion.

“We're still trying to determine exactly what happened,” said David Trusty, a spokesman for Piedmont Natural Gas. “At this point, we're just not sure.”

He said he could not comment on Basnight's statement that gas company workers had been called to the scene before the explosion but had not detected a gas leak.

Authorities did not immediately identify the people who lived in the house. Neighbors standing outside said the family had moved into the house less than a month ago.

The toddler's body was found under the rubble, said MEDIC spokesman Eric Morrision. He said he couldn't comment on the extent of the adults' injuries.

Basnight said one of the adults was transported to the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill.

John McQueary had just gotten home from work and he was closing his eyes for a nap when “I just heard a boom. … I've seen stuff like that before, but never from that close.”

McQueary and his wife, Daisy, stood behind the police tape Thursday night, watching the flames and the activity of dozens of emergency personnel and waiting for the OK to check on the condition of their house. Daisy McQueary was headed to the store when the explosion happened.

The side of the couple's house where she often sits watching TV at night was hit hard.

“I'm glad I was going to the store,” she said. “I would have been sitting right there at that window.” Staff writer Steve Lyttle contributed.

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