1 killed, several injured in house explosion in Missouri

Mississippi County Coroner Terry Parker confirms at least one person was killed in the blast.
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 1:51 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 15, 2022 at 8:02 PM EDT
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WYATT, Mo. (KFVS/Gray News) - Multiple first responders rushed to the 500 block of Pecan Street in Wyatt to a report of a house explosion on Monday morning.

Mississippi County Coroner Terry Parker confirmed at least one person was killed in the blast.

Parker said the victim passed away at a Cape Girardeau hospital.

Parker has identified the victim as 23-year-old Corey Coleman.

According to the Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office, 10 people were in the house during the explosion. Nine of the individuals are in critical condition.

The age range of the victims is between 6 months and mid-20s.

The deceased resident was in his 20s. An autopsy is scheduled for later Wednesday to determine the exact cause of death.

In a statement, the Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office said the preliminary investigation shows the cause of the explosion was a gas leak.

They have not determined the source of the gas leak yet.

Charleston Department of Public Safety Chief Robert Hearnes said the explosion might have been caused by a faulty water heater.

The exact cause of the explosion is under investigation by the Missouri State Fire Marshal Service, Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office and the Gas Commission investigation unit.

Hearnes said the injured include adults and children as young as 6 months old.

Two men sitting outside, Philip Swift and Tyler Larkins, heard the blast and followed the sounds of screaming to see how they could help.

“The house was engulfed in flames,” said Swift. “It was a bad, bad scene.”

Swift said Larkins went into the blazing home and grabbed three small children, and they both got the children and who is believed to be their mother across the street.

“By the time I turned back around and grabbed the other child, the roof had already fell in,” said Larkins.

Both men said it was by the grace of God they were there to help.

Volunteer firefighter Gary Graham said this was the worst scene he’s responded to.

“I’ve been through a few tragic things in my life but this was by far the worst,” said Graham. “I’ve never seen what I’ve seen when I got on scene today. I’ve never seen nothing like that.”

Hearnes said the house exploded around 7 a.m. and a second home caught on fire.

A next-door neighbor heard the blast and said she too will never forget what she saw when she looked to see where the blast came from.

“There was a pretty little lady, I don’t know how old she was, and she was rolling round and round and fire was just all over her body and she was rolling, screaming and crying,” said neighbor Virginia Bowles. “I’ll never get over it, ever.”

The blast caught Bowles’ home on fire. Bowles and her son were not hurt.

First responders in Mississippi, New Madrid and Scott Counties, including Charleston firefighters, responded to the scene.

Mississippi County Sheriff Britton Ferrell is urging the public to stay away from the street until further notice.

Ferrell said the property should be considered a crime scene and the public should stay clear of it.

Ferrell said the Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office, Missouri State Fire Marshal and the Missouri Public Service Commission are working together on the investigation into what happened.

The Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office thanked the Mississippi County Ambulance Service, Charleston Department of Public Safety, Mississippi County Rescue Squad, Wyatt Fire Department, Missouri Conservation Department, South Scott County Ambulance Service, New Madrid County Ambulance Service, Air Evac Service, and the Missouri State Fire Marshal Service in their statement for their quick response.

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