2 killed, 2 critically injured in Omaha house explosion

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An explosion that leveled a home in Omaha killed two people and left two others critically injured Tuesday morning, fire officials said.

Omaha Fire Department Battalion Chief Scott Fitzpatrick said firefighters responded to the explosion shortly after 8 a.m. The house was destroyed, he said.

The explosion also caused significant damage to homes on either side of the house, Fitzpatrick said. The blast in south-central Omaha rained splintered lumber and other debris throughout the neighborhood, and witnesses said it was felt and heard miles away.

Crews from utility companies were called to the scene to shut off power and gas lines. The area remained closed to the public at mid-afternoon.

The cause was not immediately released. Investigators from the city’s fire and police departments were called to the scene, which is normal protocol when fires result in fatalities, Fitzpatrick said.

“This will be a lengthy investigation,” he said.

Melanie Grabowski, who lives down the street from the house that exploded, told the Omaha World-Herald she had just returned home from walking her dog when the explosion occurred.

“I heard a massive boom, and my house shook,” Grabowski said. “I looked outside, and I saw debris flying in the air.”

Grabowski said she and her neighbors rushed to the house and found a young man sitting outside what was left of the house. Neighbors wrapped him in blankets and carried him across the street from the explosion site, she said.

“His clothes were burned off him,” she said.

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