Charlotte, NC- A natural gas explosion blew a home to bits on Thursday night, leaving an infant dead and her parents severely injured.
Flames from the gas line lit up Wellingford Street in northeast Charlotte after the explosion happened at about 7:50 p.m. Thursday.
Investigators say the natural gas apparently built up inside the home before it exploded.
“It can do a lot of damage, which you see. It actually leveled this house,” said Captain Mark Basnight of the Charlotte Fire Department.
Two adults and a 4-month-old girl were inside the home.
“We did take two adults to CMC with what we consider life-threatening injuries, obviously burns due to the explosion. And one child was deceased,” said Eric Morrison with Medic.
Morrison said the girl’s body was found inside the collapsed home.
Family members identified the infant as Sylnora Coleman. The blast knocked windows out of nearby homes. Given the power, investigators say, it’s nearly a miracle the two adults survived.
The father, identified as 25-year-old Sylmyles Coleman, was taken to the burn unit at Chapel Hill. On Friday morning, the mother, identified as Courtney Chambers, was listed in good condition at CMC.
The blast woke up neighbor Johnny McQueary.
“I thought somebody was shooting at me,” McQueary said.
He said he heard a woman screaming.
“She said, ‘My baby was in there.’ I tried but the only thing I could do was cut the water hose on,” he said.
Firefighters were in the neighborhood 90 minutes before the explosion, checking the house at 442 Wellingford after neighbors there complained about a natural gas odor.
“We checked that area and the perimeter and we got negative results,” Basnight said.
Firefighters did not check 418 Wellingford, the house that exploded.
Investigator say wind and humidity can move the gas. It can also stay trapped in rooms and be very difficult to locate.
After the explosion, authorities evacuated three houses next to the home.
Neighbors said they heard the explosion from blocks away. Raqwon Crawford was just across the street when it happened.
“I see smoke and debris going up in the air,” Crawford said.
Then, he said, he heard an anguished father crying out for help.
“The daddy ran across the street and said, ‘Find my baby,'” Crawford said. “He just walked out and he said, ‘My baby.'”
Crawford said the father was burned from head to toe and the mother was also badly injured.
“I see fire going up and I see the woman laying on the ground talking about her legs messed up,” he said. “I grabbed her up, saying, ‘I’m not gonna let you go. Where’s your baby?’ I looked at the couch, couch upside down, whole lot of stuff on the couch. I tell her, ‘I’m not gonna leave you.'”
Crawford said he tried to find the baby buried in the debris.
“I went back to find the baby and I couldn’t find the baby,” he said. “That’s what bothers me, I couldn’t find the baby.”