Riverside, OH – W1lliam A. Weathers, Enquirer – An apparent natural gas explosion destroyed a vacant Hillside Avenue home Tuesday morning and damaged several neighboring houses.

The structure was engulfed in flames before it collapsed. Black smoke could be seen for miles.

No one was seriously injured, but the explosion blew out windows of adjacent homes and threw debris from the demolished building through the neighborhood.

Nancy Smith, 70, and six grandchildren were home next door when the explosion occurred about 10:30 a.m. at 3657 Hillside Ave.

” A cross between a bomb and an airplane hitting the house,” Smith recalled Tuesday afternoon. “It slid me off a chair. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”

Smith, who suffered a small cut on her right hand, said her grandchildren, ages 6 to 18, remained calm after the explosion.

“They said we’ve got to get out before anything else explodes,” she said. “I’m just thankful we didn’t get any fire.”

The cause of the explosion was under investigation. District Fire Chief Ron Texter said the blast apparently was caused by a gas leak. Fire officials estimated the damage at $80,000.