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North Little Rock home explosion caused by natural gas leak, lit cigarette, officials say

by Austin Cannon | August 22, 2016 at 10:17 a.m. | Updated August 22, 2016 at 3:06 p.m.
The house at 4613 Haywood St. exploded on Friday night, injuring 13 people.

Accumulated natural gas combined with a lit cigarette caused a house to explode on North Little Rock's Haywood Street on Friday night, authorities said.

Capt. David Wilson, a spokesman for the fire department, said a leak from an open gas valve somewhere in the house at 4613 Haywood St. accumulated over an unspecified time. Evelyn Brooks, the primary resident of the house, told North Little Rock police she had smelled a natural gas odor a week before the explosion and in the moments right before it happened.

According to a police report, Ira Tucker, one of the people who was in the house when it exploded, said the entire house “immediately became engulfed in flames” after he lit a cigarette. The report said other victims confirmed Tucker’s story.

Fourteen people were in the house when it exploded about 10:20 p.m., the report said. Wilson said their injuries ranged from severe to minor in nature. The eight adults were taken to UAMS, St. Vincent and Baptist Health hospitals, while the six children were cleared by emergency personnel at the scene and told to see their personal physicians.

Police officers arrived at the scene Friday and saw the house covered in flames, the report said. They then set up a triage area at the corner of Haywood and Middle streets for the victims, some who had visible burns. Four fire department vehicles and four ambulances responded to the scene.

Wilson added that the house was “pretty much” damaged beyond repair.

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