Hartselle police, fire respond to structure blaze, explosion

Motorists are asked to stay clear of the area due to the number of fire crews on scene and the fact that smoke is creating low visibility.

Posted: Feb 22, 2019 7:52 AM
Updated: Feb 22, 2019 11:52 AM

Five people were taken to the hospital after an early morning fire and explosion destroyed their home.

Hartselle Fire responded to the house fire on Bethel Road near Main Street at 5:44 a.m. Crews told WAAY 31 News that about 40 minutes after they started fighting the fire, there was an explosion.

Jack Norris was asleep across the street with his wife and toddler son when the blast occurred. 

"We first initially thought it was thunder and we heard a whistle, so of course thought tornadoes," said Norris.

When they looked outside, they could see flames shooting out of the home and debris had flown across the street and into their driveway.

"The houses are close together and my wife said this morning, that could've been us. So it's definitely a scary thought," said Norris.

One of the son's of the homeowner told WAAY 31 that he believed that his father's oxygen tank ignited and was the cause of the explosion. Firefighters on the scene were not able to confirm that on Friday morning.

Crews said some of their firefighters received some minor cuts when the explosion happened, but non of them needed medical attention.

Hartselle Mayor Randy Garrison came out to the home after hearing intitial reports of injuries. He took down a list of sizes for the children who lived at the home and told one of the homeowner's sons that a local church was working to gather items to donate to them.

"That's what you get into office for is to serve people. So that's what we want to do," said Garrison.

The son of the homeowner said his family has owned that house for the past 30 years. He reminisced about growing up there and watching the street grow over the years.

Norris and his wife moved to Hartselle just over a year ago. He said they wants to help his neighbors any way they can.

"Everybody's been extremely kind and helpful ever since we moved here and we want to reciprocate that," Norris said.

Firefighters said the initial cause of the fire remains under investigation. 

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