Horseheads Home Explosion

By Matt Markham

January 26, 2011 Updated Jan 27, 2011 at 12:13 AM EDT

Town of Horseheads, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A home explodes in Chemung County, leaving neighbors in shock, and an investigation into the cause underway.

Many of those neighbors are out of their homes Wednesday night.

Police and fire crews are still there, though, picking up the pieces after a home explodes and burns.

"She lives right across the street," said Debbie Fitzwater, whose sister lives right across the street from the explosion. "She heard the explosion at about nine o'clock this morning. She was in bed, and it jolted her out of bed."

Fitzwater's sister was worried her house would be next.

"She thought maybe it was going to explode or something. So she got out," Fitzwater said.

"I felt a very big vibration and the ceiling fan and wall were shaking," said Mark Welch, who lives around the corner. "I came out of the driveway and looked, and sure enough, there was flames ten to fifteen feet in the air over on Joseph Street."

Police and fire crews responded quickly and secured the area evacuating many neighbors.

As to when they can return, "it's going to be a while," said Bill Schrom, Chemung County Undersheriff. "They've shut off all the electric and gas lines until they determine what the cause of the fire was."

Investigators and NYSEG crews will be looking into natural gas as a potential cause of the explosion.

"There are two individuals that they identified that have just left the residence that appear to have been injured as a result of the explosion," Schrom said.

They were airlifted to Strong Memorial in Rochester. Residents are stunned.

"The house? There is no house. It's gone," Fitzwater said.

Incidentally, a home exploded just a few blocks away in 2005.

Crews will be in Horseheads for an undetermined amount of time as their investigation continues.