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The brick walls were blown off of a Wilson home Tuesday.
Firefighters were dispatched to a structure fire at the single-story ranch home at 1203 Elizabeth St. W. about 1 p.m.
As crews began fighting the blaze, a natural gas leak inside the building detonated, knocking the exterior bricks off the walls.
“When we arrived, it was heavy smoke and fire conditions throughout the house,” said Capt. Jim Miller, of Wilson Fire/Rescue Services, who served as incident commander at the fire scene. “The bulk of the fire was in the detached garage area. Right now we are thinking it was a common attic, so we had fire throughout the structure underneath the floor and throughout the attic.”
Miller said fire crews were all outside when the gas inside ignited and none of them were injured.
“We had an emission of gas which created some sort of an explosion, if you will, that blew the exterior veneer brickwork off of the house,” Miller said. “We were actively engaging in the front yard. We had not made interior operations at the time of the explosion or ignition.”
Miller said the detonation of the gas did not create much of a sound.
“Actually it was not a lot of noise other than the brickwork and that kind of stuff collapsing and hitting the ground, but not a lot of sound other than that,” Miller said.
Miller said it still required a considerable amount of force to push the brick walls out from the structure.
“You see the foundation vents laying out here in the street,” Miller said. “That’s the amount of force we had.”
Miller said the home was serviced by natural gas, which was a city utility.
“It is an occupied residence but no one was home at the time of the fire,” Miller said. “The two occupants that were living here are going to be displaced. We have got Red Cross coming in to provide housing for them.”
According to Miller, fire crews had the blaze under control at about the 20-minute mark.
“Our crews did a real good job,” Miller said. “Our priority is life safety and no one was home. We ensured that no one was home during our searches and the main thing is nobody was hurt. No injuries were reported on firefighters.”
About 30 personnel came to the scene, including firefighters from Wilson and a small crew from the Silver Lake Fire Department that brought their support unit for air supply.
“At this point, the fire is still under investigation so we really don’t know what the cause of the fire was,” Miller said. “We have certified investigators on scene who will come back to investigate the fire. We are working with the gas department because we did have an active blowing gas leak in conjunction with the fire.”
Miller said the building was heavily damaged.
“It’s going to be a total loss,” Miller said.
According to online Wilson County property tax records, the 1,242-square-foot home is owned by Kim Evette Bullock and was built in 1956.