TOPEKA, Kan. - (WIBW)-- An explosion obliterated a split-level house located on 1905 SW Navajo Lane just before noon on Monday and rocked the quiet Southwest Topeka neighborhood to the core.
Police officers and firefighters responded to the building explosion at around 11:40 A.M. Firefighters battled the flames from the ensuing fire for hours, wearing masks against the thick flames almost two stories high.
The fire had engulfed what was left from the blast. Only charred beams and what appeared to have been blackened car remained.
The blast was felt by residents more than a mile away.
"I just walked into the kitchen, and when it blew up, the percussion and the sound just knocked me back a little bit," Roderick Hunt said. He was visiting relatives living right across the street. "I couldn't figure out what was going on, until I stepped out and saw that the house was completely gone."
Viewer Video from the Scene:
"The roof was laid up against my tree," Freda Kinney, a next-door neighbor said. "Then it started burning, then the flame really came close to my house."
Neighbors said the resident of the home, an elderly woman, was conscious and speaking to emergency personnel when they arrived on scene.
Neighbors reported seeing her hair and hands were on fire.
"When we got here, we found that a house had in fact exploded," Lt. Jana Harden with the Topeka Police Department said. "And we found so far one victim that has been taken to the hospital."
Topeka Police report that a sprinkler system was being installed when a gas line was struck, causing the explosive impact.
The installation happened in a neighbor's back yard to the back side of the burnt-down house, on Arrowhead Road.
An area around the home was secured by Topeka Police - Authorities are investigating it as a crime scene.
Natural gas has also been shut off for the area.
"Our crews are on site," Dawn Ewing with the Kansas Gas Service said. "They are currently in the process of shutting off natural gas for approximately 77 residences."
The affected residences are:
-the 1700, 1800 and 1900 blocks of SW Arrowhead RD on both odd and even sides of the street
-the 1700 and 1800 blocks of SW Cheyenne Rd on odd side only and
-the 1900 block of SW Navajo Lane on odd side only.
There is no current estimate of how long it will be shut off, Ewing said.
Late Monday night, 13 News learned that the victim in the explosion was a 73-year-old woman, who was taken to a local hospital, then air-lifted to KU Medical Center, in serious but stable condition.