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'The house was totally gone': Home explosion rocks Tarrant County neighborhood, critically injuring man

Westworth Village police confirmed the incident was a home explosion.

WESTWORTH VILLAGE, Texas — A home explosion rocked a Tarrant County neighborhood Thursday morning, sending one man to the hospital critical condition with burns, officials said.

The explosion happened around 7:30 a.m. in the 5600 block of Watters Place in Westworth Village, west of Fort Worth, near Burton Hill and White Settlement roads.

MedStar, the ambulance service for most of Tarrant County, confirmed they were treating one critical patient at the scene. Westworth Village police confirmed the incident was a home explosion.

The patient who was in critical condition was flown to Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

The Fort Worth Fire Department was also among the agencies responding to the incident.

White Settlement Police Chief Christopher Cook, whose agency was also responding to the explosion, shared several photos from the scene on Twitter, one of which showed a home that appeared to be totally damaged. Wood, shingles and other debris were strewn across the street and property.

Cook tweeted that some homes in the immediate area of the explosion were being evacuated out of precaution. 

Fort Worth Fire Battalion Chief James McAmis said the call for the explosion came in at 7:33 a.m. Crews arrived and found that the house had exploded and there was one man who was a victim. The man had burns on his body, and was taken by Careflite to Parkland.

Fort Worth Fire said one firefighter sustained injuries and was taken to a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

McAmis said the cause of the explosion was still under investigation. Atmos, the natural gas company, was on the scene "assessing the situation," McAmis said.

"It's too soon to say that it had anything to do with natural gas," McAmis said.

Atmos officials later Thursday said crews were in the neighborhood testing other houses for gas leaks or compromised meters. By mid-Thursday afternoon, Atmos Energy technicians reported normal operations for their natural gas systems.  

The gas company also vowed to help arson and ATF investigators searching for the cause. It's something neighbors hope to learn after experiencing the explosion that could be felt two miles away.

According to City of Westworth Mayor Kelly Jones, many buildings in the area, including city hall, have some degree of damage. 

Jones said five homes on Watters Place were deemed "uninhabitable" by the building inspections team. The Red Cross is assisting those displaced families. 

"While all of us are to some degree still reeling from this explosion, and praying for those who experienced injuries, this is a crystal clear example of the excellent staff we enjoy here in Westworth Village," said Jones in a statement. "Chief Reaves and our police department, and City Administrator Brandy Barrett and our civilian staff, all responded immediately and professionally to react and take control of the surrounding area."

Nearby neighbors step in

The blast got the attention of neighbor Craig Strain.  He immediately started to guess what he just heard and felt while inside his own home on the same street.

"Three things went to my mind, somebody from a long way away was trying to hit the Air Force base and missed, the other was the tree fell on my house and the third one was a transformer," said Strain.

"I saw the house was totally gone," Strain said. "Not burning, just gone. There was a man standing in the middle of the house, screaming ... I worked my way through the gate and started talking to him. Told him, 'It's alright man, you're OK, you're OK.' He said, 'I don't know.'  I said it's going to be alright."

The loud screams came from his neighbor, who Strain had never met. Strain found him standing in the middle of what looked like a war zone behind a front-yard gate. Although Strain was determined to help the man, he had even more concerns about others injured in the blast or possibly trapped in all the debris.

Codi Tanksley, a neighbor near the explosion, described the incident as feeling like "literally an earthquake."

"It shook everything around us, and I flipped around, and all I saw was one of our neighbors (Strain) running into the house and they were dragging somebody out of the house," Tanksley said. "A lot of windows busted out. I think the foundation is shifted off of my house. It's just unbelievable. Everybody is shaken up by this whole incident."

Tracy Sanders and his family live nearby. He was startled after hearing his wife screaming after the explosion. Sanders is skeptical about entering their house because of the damages and impact from the force of the blast.

"We're just trying to figure it out. We know we can't go back into the house. It's shifted off of its foundation," said Sanders. 

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