Columbus, OH – WBNS – A massive explosion early Sunday morning demolished a southwest Columbus house, leaving one family homeless just two weeks before Christmas.

Neighbors in the 3300 block of Western Hill Court reported the blast at about 5 a.m.

Firefighters dug through rubble well after daybreak to expose any hot spots as a water cannon doused the remaining flames of the catastrophic fire.

Neighbors reacted in seconds trying to come to the rescue of a family with four children who lived there. But they soon realized if anyone was inside, there was no hope.

Neighbors say the four children who lived at the home had spent the night with friends while their mother was at work and their father was away on a hunting trip.

Other neighbors began evacuating and trying to make sure people from other homes nearby got out.

“I had enough time to get the dog out and go out behind the house and knock on the other’s neighbor’s door,” Foust said. “By then, the heat was so bad I was trying to stay around the corner. There were three or four other pops or explosions. It was just that fast. In two minutes probably the front of the house was down.”

Some were surprised that the blast left surrounding houses standing and with little or no damage.

The official cause of the explosion is still investigation.

Columbus Division of Fire Battalion Chief Doug Smith says a complete investigation is expected to take a couple of days. Preliminary findings indicate a natural gas leak is to blame judging by the magnitude of the blast.

Firefighters were still pumping water and clearing debris out of the basement Sunday night to get a look at the gas lines.