FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — A 21-year-old Fort Wayne man was being treated in a hospital burn unit Sunday, one day after an explosion ripped apart a two-story house.
Caleb Hoffman was listed in critical condition Sunday at Fort Wayne St. Joseph Hospital. Authorities said he was the only person in the north-side home at the time of the blast late Saturday morning.
One of the other two residents, 21-year-old China White, said Hoffman suffered burns across 70 percent of his body. She said she was at work when she found out what had happened.
"I got a call saying my roommate lit a match and the house exploded," White told WANE-TV.
Neighbor Jason Baugher said he was having coffee on his porch when the explosion occurred.
"You could just feel it rattle your chest," he told The Journal Gazette.
Baugher ran to the scene and heard someone screaming: "Help me! Help me!" He and two other bystanders found Hoffman covered with soot in a part of the house that was still standing. He said Hoffman maneuvered his way out of the wreckage, and Baugher and the two others helped him over a fence to safety before fire engulfed the wreckage.
"The fire really took off," Baugher said. "It got crazy."
Fort Wayne Fire Chief Amy Biggs said it could take a while to determine the cause of the fire.
"This is going to be a long process," Biggs told WANE. "We're looking at all those different areas where the materials landed."
Northern Indiana Public Service Co. spokesman Larry Graham said the utility also was investigating the cause of the explosion. Graham said NIPSCO workers found no gas leaks or signs of gas in the area surrounding the house. The possibility of a gas leak inside the house is still under investigation.
The Journal Gazette reported the blast launched the back door of the home 50 feet, and the front door landed across the street. The south wall was blown out and resting against a utility pole. Broken glass littered the street and sidewalk.
The blast was felt blocks away.