House explosion rocks 1300 block of S.W. High in Topeka

By Samantha Foster
Topeka Capital Journal – July 20, 2018

Photo by Samantha Foster

Three people are safe after being away late Thursday when an explosion obliterated their home in west-central Topeka, where the smell of natural gas was present afterward.

Topeka Fire Marshal Michael Martin said firefighters arrived to find the home “pretty much destroyed” by the explosion and accompanying fire, reported about 10:25 p.m. at 1331 S.W. High Ave.

Shawnee County appraisal records indicated the destroyed house was owned by Ashley A. Nadeau, director of marketing and development for the Topeka Performing Arts Center. Nadeau posted at 11:30 p.m. Thursday to her Facebook page, “I’m alive.”

Martin said four people from a neighboring house were taken to a local hospital with injuries that weren’t life-threatening. Their names weren’t immediately available. Martin said he wasn’t able to discuss the nature of their injuries, and he wasn’t certain which house they had been inside.

Two cats that lived at the exploded house hadn’t been found as of midnight, Martin said.

Circumstances of the blast were under investigation.

Nadeau’s house appeared to be leveled, with much of the roof remaining intact.

Dylan McManis, who lives across the street and to the north of the destroyed house, said he was taking a nap before his third-shift job when the explosion woke him. He checked his trees first, then looked out front.

“Oh my God, the house across from me has been obliterated,” he said.

Neighbor Brandy McGranahan said she felt and heard the explosion. At first, she thought a tree outside her home had fallen, as a thunderstorm with strong winds that moved through the city Friday afternoon had already downed large tree limbs in the neighborhood.

Instead, when she looked outside, she saw flames and a flattened house on the west side of the street.

“The whole house was gone,” she said.

Martin said fire crews initially believed three people were missing inside the house.

“They weren’t home at the time, but we didn’t know that when we arrived at the scene,” he said.

Martin said investigators ultimately managed to confirm no one was home at the time of the blast.

Residents of other houses in the 1300 block of S.W. High were at first asked to move down to S.W. 13th and High while Kansas Gas Service employees worked to shut off the gas. The smell of gas was present for some time after the explosion before dissipating.

Glass and other debris from the house covered the street in front of it, as well as the car outside a house to the north. Martin said most of the damage from the explosion appeared to have been contained to 1331 S.W. High, with some damage to neighboring houses.

“Right now, we’re just happy that nobody’s hurt and everybody’s accounted for,” he said.

Police and firefighters told residents about 11:20 p.m. that they could return to their houses. The fire department then asked them to move to the end of the block.

Martin said that was done “out of an abundance of caution” and to give Kansas Gas Service an opportunity to take time to monitor the area, as there was concern about ground infiltration of gas.

Residents were later allowed back into most of the block’s homes, though apparently not into the houses directly adjacent to the destroyed building on the north and south.

 

Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
http://www.ksffa.com
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page
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