A house explosion killed a family of four in northeastern Ohio Monday night, and investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fatal blast, The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting.
As of this writing, the names of the victims of the explosion have not been released. The victims are confirmed to be a mother and father and their two daughters, ages 12 and 5.
At about 8:45 p.m. Monday night, an explosion shook the 7400 block of Skyhaven Road in Northfield Center, Ohio, a well-to-do suburb of Cleveland.
— Cliff Pinckard (@cpinckard) January 12, 2016
Neighbor Randy Nickschinski described the chaotic scene, saying, “It happened so fast. There was a lot of fire, a lot of debris.”
Nickschinski and his son kicked in the front door and ran into the house. The family’s dog ran out, but when they yelled for the family members, no one responded.
“It was very eerie… We were yelling and nothing. We were just looking everywhere.”
When asked why he braved the dangerous situation to find his neighbors, Nickschinski didn’t mince words.
“You’d do the same thing if you got kids. It’s like a dream. It can’t be happening. It’s not happening.”
Once firefighters arrived a short time later, they discovered a gruesome scene: the mother and the two girls were found, dead, near the front of the house. The father was found near the back of the house. The house was fully engulfed in flames.
Northfield Center Fire Chief Frank Risko said that the explosion caused the first fatalities he had seen in his career as a firefighter.
“It is very sad, very sad. It’s difficult. This is our first fatality as long as I can remember… It’s not easy.”
Neighbors gathered in front of the house fire, despite temperatures in the teens Monday night, desperate for news of what happened to the family.
— Nichole Vrsansky (@NVrsansky) January 12, 2016
Neighbor Danielle Nickschinski, 18, said that she had babysat for the family’s daughters.
“They were very outgoing and nice. They always wanted to play.”
As of this writing, none of the victims of the fatal house explosion have been identified. However, in a follow-up report for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Nordonia Hills Schools Superintendent Joe Clark confirmed that one of the victims was a second-grader in his district.
“A Northfield Elementary School 2nd grader, her parents and sister were killed in a house explosion in Northfield Center. We are all deeply saddened by this loss and our deepest sympathies go out to those friends, relatives, and classmates they left behind.”
Clark also said that grief counselors would be available to talk to the family’s grieving classmates. He gave parents advice, reminding them to listen carefully, not overreact, and to answer questions honestly according to their belief systems. And, most importantly, he told parents to give their sons and daughters extra hugs today.
As of this writing, the cause of the fatal house fire has not been determined. However, the Christian Science Monitor suggests that natural gas may be to blame. The Monitor notes that some 177 million Americans rely on natural gas for heating in the winter, and fatal explosions and fires brought on by natural gas leaks are not uncommon. In November, a natural gas explosion in New Jersey leveled a home, killing one person and injuring another.
However, representatives from Dominion Gas Company, the northeast Ohio natural gas provider, have said that they don’t believe that the Ohio house explosion was caused by natural gas, although that possibility hasn’t been conclusively ruled out.
[Image via Shutterstock/TFoxFoto]