Neighbors heard explosion at house that burned near Willard

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. An investigator for the State Fire Marshal's Office is looking into an explosion and fire in an upscale neighborhood. One man who lived in the house is hospitalized with burns.

The fire was reported about 10:15 Sunday night in the 7500 block of West Persimmon Court off Highway AB. Someone in the area heard an explosion and called 911. The east side of the house is destroyed.

Crews from at least six fire departments showed up to help; some stayed there much of the night.

"The flames were coming out of all the windows of the house, the garage door was blown approximately 40 yards to the west side of the structure. Every window of the house was blown out," said Willard Fire Chief Ken Scott.

Firefighters say the fire started in the garage. That's where most of the damage is. Crews say something in there exploded and blew the door about 50 feet away.

"It sounded like a bomb went off and it shook the house," said Juli Kelley.

Kelley says she looked out her door and saw the burning home, which is in a subdivision of half-million dollar houses.

"Of course, you go in panic mode when you see that happening because it was just engulfed in flames," said Kelley.

"The man came running out the front door. Neighbors grabbed the man; he came out and had some second degree burns to his arms and his torso," said the fire chief.

The fire was still hot, 12 hours after the explosion.

"With the weather and with all the hidden voids and cracks and crannies in this particular structure, that's the reason we're back out here rather just be safe than sorry for later," Scott said at midday Monday.

Crews watered down smoke and hot spots, and now the home is a sad reminder of what neighbors say was a close call.

"We're just thankful the man made it out and safe," said Kelley.

The fire chief says he doesn't suspect any foul play; He says he thinks some type of fuel may have caused this home to go up in flames.

Emergency responders thought the injured man would survive.