Melbourne, FL – A man and a child were found dead in their beds and seven others were injured after a gas explosion rocked a Brevard County Housing Authority apartment complex early Wednesday.
Officials identified the victims as Joshua Leigh Jackson, 18, and his 8-month-old son, Ja’miya.
Fire officials responded to 911 calls of an explosion that occurred in Unit C of a two-story building at the Tucker Heights apartments at about 3 a.m.
When emergency crews arrived, they found seven units damaged and two destroyed by an explosion.
Officials said seven people out of about 40 people living in the building were transported to two local hospitals. A search hours after the explosion led to the discovery of the two victims.
“(The victims) were located near the area of origin, where the explosion occurred,” Melbourne Assistant Fire Chief Greg Anglin said. “It appears as if they were not aware of what was going on. They were not aroused by the explosion.”
Health First spokeswoman Jackie O’Connell said two adults, ages 45 and 25, and another child, age 3, were in good condition at that facility.
Good Samaritan Saves Family
A man who said he heard the explosion while sleeping a few blocks away and ran to help is being credited with saving a family trapped in the blast.
Keith McMillan said when he arrived he saw the complex was on fire at about 3:30 a.m.
“I jumped to action because I’ve been in a house fire before so I know how it is about having kids trapped inside,” resident Keith McMillan said. “So, I went right inside and straight upstairs. The one baby room was completely destroyed and the people’s room, they had the whole ceiling, bricks and everything lying on top of them.”
McMillan said the explosion launched a baby out of the apartment and into a yard.
“I came to find out they had two kids and one of the kids was blown out of the house by the explosion,” McMillan said. “My main concern was getting the kids out of the house.
Others said the blast sent them scrambling from their beds.
“I live behind the one building that blew up,” Bridgett Williams said. “I was sleeping. I heard a big, loud commotion.”
She said part of her ceiling fell, and the windows blew out in her apartment.
“I grabbed my kids and got out,” Williams said. “When I came out, that one building was on fire.”
Her daughter, Armmoni, 6, added: “I heard a big boom.”
Worst Fire In City In Years
Koert Van Wormer, Melbourne fire investigator, told Local 6 News partner Florida Today that it was worst fire in the city in eight or nine years.
He said the investigation into the explosion and blaze wouldnt begin until daylight.
Fire crews were forced to wait until gas lines were turned off before continuing to search for more people inside Tuesday.
A Brevard County Sheriff’s Office helicopter was being used to search for survivors in the rubble.
“Looking at the massive damage, anyone walking away from this, (it) is definitely a miracle — that’s what people are telling us,” Local 6’s Charnel Wright said.
35-40 People Left Homeless
A Red Cross officials said about 35 to 40 people living at the complex are being housed at local hotels and mental health officials were dispatched to the scene.
“Anybody who has this type of disaster, some do not handle this well and that is understandable,” a Red Cross representative said. “We do have our own mental health people here.”