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Ceres home explodes, damages 23 houses

5:34 PM, Sep 8, 2012   |    comments
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CERES, CA - An early morning house explosion rocked a Ceres neighborhood Saturday.

The Ceres Fire Department responded to the 700 block of Foster Drive at 5:42 a.m. for a report of a possible explosion and fire.

"I woke up to the dogs barking and I was like what the heck is happening," Neighbor Chelsea Cook said.

"Our window cracked, I jumped out of bed looked outside," Neighbor Gina Aguilar said. "Our house rumbled like it was an earthquake.

PHOTOS: Ceres house explodes

Multiple 911 calls came in and when firefighters arrived they found a home had exploded and was fully engulfed in flames, Battalion Chief Michael Lillie said.

The explosion blew the roof off the house, blew out glass windows and destroyed the walls, Lillie said.

Neighboring homes on the north and south side of the home were damaged when their attics caught fire. Crews initially had reports that there were possibly children trapped inside one of those homes, but a search did not find anyone. Lillie said a gas meter of a neighboring home broke off after the explosion; firefighters let the leak burn until PG&E could shut off the gas.

About another 23 homes in the neighborhood suffered window damage when the house exploded.

Fortunately, no civilians or firefighters were injured.

Investigators still have not determined what caused the explosion and fire.

Neighbors said several days ago, a stove was stolen from the house; when investigators scoured the debris, they didn't find a stove. They are looking into the theft as a possible lead.

Ceres police Sgt. Danny Vierra said officers served a search warrant on Aug. 30 at the house that exploded because of a suspected marijuana grow operation. Police seized 23 marijuana plants and dry weed from inside. They also arrested Juan Corillo, 20, for marijuana cultivation, Vierra said. Neighbors told police the residents vacated the home shortly after the seizure.

Vierra said it's unknown if the explosion is connected to the suspected marijuana grow.

Red Cross Director Trista Cunningham said the organization is assisting Virginia Garcia and her six children with food and lodging after they were displaced by the explosion. 

Garcia's home neighbored the home that exploded and suffered major damage.

The wall in Garcia's bedroom collapsed from the force. Fortunately, she and her family were able to pull the debris off them and get out of the house safely.

"I thought my car exploded, I didn't know," Garcia recalled. "[The wall] fell on us, boom! I don't know how we got it off us."

The Red Cross placed Garcia and her family in a motel for the time being.


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