Rock Creek Park, WA – A powerful explosion destroyed a house on the edge of Rock Creek Park in upper Northwest Washington yesterday evening.

The 6:15 p.m. blast at a house on Oregon Avenue NW near Nebraska Avenue was heard for blocks around. It sent doors, windows and bricks from the house flying and raised a cloud of dust.

No casualties were reported. The occupant of the house was said to be out of town.

Fire officials estimated the damage to be as high as $3 million, saying the house appeared to be a “total loss.”

The cause of the ground-shaking explosion was not immediately known. However, a fire department spokesman said it might have resulted from the ignition of a natural gas buildup. Witnesses said they detected an odor of natural gas that seemed to pervade the neighborhood.

Officials of Washington Gas said a crew was on the scene investigating.

Even on the Fourth of July, when loud detonations are common, the sound of the explosion attracted attention.

“I mean, it was loud,” said Steven Graham, who lives nearby in the 2500 block of Rittenhouse Street NW.

Graham, whose house shares a property line with the blast site, described a “huge boom.”

“Stuff in our house started falling off walls and shelves,” he said.

What came to mind, Graham said, was gratitude that his family was not holding a holiday barbecue.

“All I could think,” he said, was “I’m glad we weren’t out there with a grill.”

A woman who lives nearby said that she was outdoors with her 12-year-old dog and that the animal “literally leaped off the ground.”

“Both of us did,” she said.

Another neighborhood resident, Kiran Kumar, said she heard the blast and “felt the ground shake.”

Photographer Vito Maggiolo said he heard the blast while at home near East West Highway about a mile and a half away.

“At first, I thought fireworks,” he said, “but it was daylight, and it was only one boom.

“Then I thought, ‘Oh, this can’t be good.’ ” D.C. fire chief Dennis L. Rubin said the occupant of the house was in Tennessee.

Rubin said a search dog would be sent into the home as a precaution.

Doors from the house had been blown into the street. The blast buckled garage doors and walls. Debris littered Nebraska Avenue and the yards of many neighbors. Some of the pieces were thrown across Oregon Avenue, into Rock Creek Park