AP U.S.

Explosion at Virginia home kills 1 firefighter and injures 11 others, including 9 firefighters

STERLING, Va. (AP) — One firefighter was killed and nine others were injured when an explosion in a Washington, D.C., suburb on Friday leveled a home where they were investigating a gas leak. Two other people were also injured.

The firefighters were called to the home in Sterling, Virginia, by a report of a gas smell shortly after 7:30 p.m. and a fiery explosion took place about 30 minutes later, fire officials said.

The blast and fire occurred while firefighters were inside the building, James Williams, assistant chief of operations for Loudon County Fire and Rescue, said at a news conference.

“Soon after arrival, with firefighters inside, the house did explode,” Williams said.

One firefighter was killed, while nine firefighters and two others were taken to hospitals with injuries ranging from limited to severe, Williams said.

“We have all firefighters out of the building. The fire will continue to smolder,” Williams said.

He described damage to the home as “total devastation.”

“There’s a debris field well into the street and into the neighboring homes,” he said.

Williams said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, the Sterling Volunteer Fire Company said its crews had responded to a report of a gas leak before the blast.

A neighbor, John Padgett, told ABC7 News that he had smelled gas while walking his dog earlier.

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The blast shook his home, he said.

“It looked like an inferno,” and insulation from the burning home fell like ash, he added. “It was horrific; it looked like something out of a war zone.”

Sterling is about 22 miles (35 kilometers) northwest of Washington, D.C.

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