Poland, OH- Western Reserve Joint Fire District Chief David ”Chip” Comstock says it’s a miracle five of his firefighters survived an explosion at a 2816 Center Road home early Saturday morning that flattened the home.
Comstock said four of the firefighters were on or near the front porch, and a fifth was trying to shut off the gas at the home about 6:30 a.m. when the explosion occurred.
The firefighters had bumps, bruises and cuts, and one might have a broken nose, Comstock said. He said they were taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center and were treated and released.
”None of the big debris hit any of our guys,” Comstock said. ”Honestly, it was a miracle.”
Comstock said investigators will be trying to figure out what caused high natural gas levels inside the home that probably led to the explosion.
Firefighters were called after the homeowner woke up to a cold home and went downstairs to check the furnace, Comstock said. He said she recently had work done on her furnace and when she checked it Saturday morning, she could smell gas and hear a hissing sound.
Comstock said she got her daughter, and they left the house. She called her son, who advised her to call 911. They waited while firefighters arrived and then gave them the keys to the house, Comstock said.
Four firefighters went to the door while a fifth went to find the shutoff valve for the gas. Comstock said their gas meters told them something was not right as soon as they opened the door.
”The gas meters started screaming at them,” Comstock said.
The firefighters were backing up when the explosion happened, Comstock said. The home immediately caught fire and the remaining firefighters shifted to protecting the two adjacent homes as well as caring for their comrades, Comstock said. He said the neighboring homes sustained only minor damage.
Complicating matters was that it took three hours to shut off the gas entirely to the home because of the heavy snowfall, Comstock said. He said there were some fires that just could not be put out until the gas was off.
The fire chief stressed that anyone suspecting a gas or electric problem in their home should call 911 and leave right away. He said firefighters are trained to investigate such problems.