A Longview woman whose house exploded early Thursday said she feels blessed to be alive.
Dorothy Chandler, 83, sat on the porch swing outside her house in the 600 block of Berkshire Drive on Thursday morning talking with family members, neighbors and emergency personnel.
Officials believe a gas leak caused the explosion that destroyed Chandler’s home. Glass, pieces of wood and other building materials littered the neighborhood just before 1 a.m. Shingles were strewn across the yards of neighboring homes. A portion of the residence’s garage door hung in a small tree across the street, and the microwave from the kitchen rested on part of the collapsed roof. Windows and doors were damaged at surrounding homes, but no injuries were reported.
“I’m OK. My son’s OK. I feel very blessed,” said Chandler, who shared the home with her 65-year-old son, Bill. “Nothing gets the neighbors out in the yard like an explosion. At least you know they care about one another.”
Chandler said she was in bed when the explosion occurred.
“I didn’t hear it. It woke me up when the ceiling fell in on me.”
Chandler said a firefighter pulled her out of the window in her bedroom and set her down outside. “I thanked the Lord when I got pulled out of bed,” Chandler said.
Chandler said she’s just going to wait on insurance people and praise the Lord until she figures out what to do next and “wave at these people that drive by. I oughta charge them all when they drive by 50 cents per car.”
Investigators suspect the explosion was caused by a natural gas leak, but Russell Marshall , a Longview Fire Department battalion chief, could not say whether it was from gas service to the home or from another source. The explosion remains under investigation.
Officials briefly evacuated neighboring homes out of concerns of a possible gas leak, but residents of about 10 homes had returned to their homes by 2:30 a.m., Marshall said.
“We had quite a bit of structural damage,” Marshall said.
The force of the explosion set off four burglar alarms in neighboring homes, Marshall said. Emergency operators were notified of the explosion moments later.
Firefighters worked with neighbors to board up windows and doors damaged by the blast.
Neighbor Jim Cary said he and his wife had just gone to bed when they heard the explosion and felt their house shake. He said he thought a car might have driven into his house. When he ran outside, he saw the aftermath.
“Her house just absolutely exploded,” Cary said.
Cary, who said he has known the Chandlers for more than a decade, ran to the house and called out their names, fearing the worst. He said Bill Chandler answered him, saying he was pinned under debris. Cary said he thought about going into the home to extract him, but another neighbor, a Longview police officer, convinced him to wait for the fire department.