Howland, OH – Three homes sustained enough damage to be condemned. — An explosion leveled a two-story home on Raccoon Road shortly after 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, but miraculously nobody was injured.

Randy Mansfield, 35, of 1395 Raccoon Drive N.E. had just left his house to check with a neighbor about a possible gas leak when the residence exploded, Howland Fire Chief George Brown said.

The blast created a 300-yard debris field, scattering insulation, glass, siding and other pieces of the Mansfield home around the neighborhood. An hour later, pieces of insulation continued to float down at the scene.

A large portion of the Mansfield home, apparently a side wall, rested more than 200 feet away in a neighbor’s yard across the street.

“We are very fortunate and very lucky that there were no injuries,” Brown said.

He said the home was completely collapsed when he arrived at the scene. Firefighters from the township fire department were dousing hot spots in the remains of the home’s foundation and checking nearby residences.

Brown said it was premature to give an official cause for the blast but surmised that a natural gas leak was the likely cause.

“It’s very rare that something like this happens,” he said. Further investigation into the damage to other homes would be done in the morning, the chief said. “Our main concern is their safety,” he said of those forced to leave their homes for the night.

Brown said several homes sustained severe damage, including 1377, 1386, 1396, 1403, 1385, 1398 and 1404 Raccoon N.E. as well as a home at 7517 Pegotty N.E. Three of the homes were condemned.

One of those three, 1377 Raccoon, is owned by Tracey and Nick Macrinas. The couple, watching cleanup efforts from across the street, said they were told they would have to stay elsewhere. Their home of eight years had obvious outside damage.

“They said there was considerable structural damage and evicted us,” Nick Macrinas said.

He added that Mansfield told him after the blast that he had heard a buzzing noise and was running out of the house when it blew.

A home at 1386 Raccoon, across the street, owned by Nitia and Chetana Shah, was knocked 4 inches off its foundation.

The Shahs’ son, David, was home and said he had no idea what happened when the explosion occurred. Inside the home, pictures and other items were knocked off walls and shelves.

A friend of the Shahs’, Nick Lyon of Southwind Drive off state Route 46, said he heard the blast in his basement as he was lifting weights. “My dad yelled down at me; he thought I’d dropped a weight,” Lyon said.

Gary Casterline of Raglan Drive said he felt the blast at his home. “It was intense,” he said.

Tanya Pavlenko, who lives next door to the leveled home, said she was sitting in her living room talking on the phone when the explosion occurred.

“The ceiling caved in and the windows cracked,” she said. “I got up out of the chair and ran to the door and plaster in the ceiling started coming down.”

She said that a scant 30 minutes before the blast she sent her 9-year-old daughter Sasha to play at a neighbor’s home.

Other safety forces at the scene included the Howland Police Department, Bazetta Fire Department, Youngstown Air Base Fire Department, Vienna Fire Department, American Red Cross, and Trumbull County EMA and Dominion East Ohio Gas.