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Explosion levels home on SW High; residents safe, 4 neighbors hurt

(WIBW)
Published: Jul. 19, 2018 at 11:00 PM CDT
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Topeka Fire officials say all residents of a home leveled by an explosion late Thursday are safe.

Neighbors say their homes shook at 10:25 p.m. when a blast tore apart the house at 1331 SW High. People as far away as I-70 and Gage told 13 NEWS they heard an explosion.

Firefighters put out the fire quickly before having to pull back after for safety. The house was reduced to a pile of debris. A few neighboring houses sustained damage.

Topeka Fire investigators say the explosion was caused by a chain of events from the storms late Thursday afternoon, but could not pinpoint what exactly happened.

Officials say strong winds blew over a tree near the home, which knocked out power to the neighborhood.

They say a neighbor called the homeowner, who came home from work early to inspect the damage. TPD says when the homeowner went inside, she smelled a strong natural gas odor and left.

Roger Shields, who lives across the street, said he was watching TV when his window blew out and he was knocked out of his chair.

"I saw real bright, white-yellow," Shields said. "I had absolutely no idea what had gone on, other than it was one heck of an explosion."

Topeka Fire Marshal Michael Martin said it was initially feared three people who lived at the home were missing, but they were located and are fine. However, he said four neighbors were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. They were released a short time later.

The residents' cats also were missing.

The block remained evacuated past midnight.

"They're doing a bunch of monitoring and, really, out of an abundance of caution, we want to make sure we don't have any gas seeping underground," Martin said.

It was the same reason firefighters stayed back until Kansas Gas Service gave them an all-clear to examine the rubble.

"There's always a risk of those secondary explosions, especially when we're dealing with natural gas," Martin said. "We want to make sure it's safe, then we can go in and systematically check to ensure everyone's out."

Martin said investigators had spoken to the homeowners and they believe they had "a general idea of what happened," however the investigation to determine a definitive cause could take a couple days.

Residents were allowed back into their homes -- with the help of an escort from Kansas Gas -- after about a 90-minute wait.

The Red Cross also responded to the scene to assist the family and neighbors affected by the explosion.

A search of Shawnee County records lists the homeowner as Ashley A. Nadeau. A GoFundMe has been set up for Nadeau and her family. You can

to make a donation.

Amanda Sayler, who's home is also being considered a total loss after the explosion, has also set up a GoFundMe .

to donate.

LIVE: explosion at 13th and High

Posted by WIBW Shawn Wheat on Thursday, July 19, 2018

CONTINUING COVERAGE: Explosion near 13th and High in Topeka.

Posted by WIBW Shawn Wheat on Thursday, July 19, 2018