House explosion damages three northside homes

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by Lane Kimble

MILWAUKEE -- You could still smell charred wood close to ten hours after a home near 79th and Bobolink exploded around 1:30 a.m. Sunday.  Neighbors say it shook them awake.

"[My wife] goes by my window and she's like, 'Oh my God, this house is on fire,'" neighbor Khoo Xiong said.

Xiong woke up to popping noises and a huge fireball right across the street.

"The flame was so big that when my kids woke up and I came by the door, from here I could feel the heat," Xiong said.  "It was just blasting all over."

Firefighters suspect a natural gas leak caused the house explosion and fire, which spread to two  neighboring homes.

Malik Morris lives about a block away and felt his home shake.  He was nervous the natural gas might leak to more homes nearby.

"I already saw that three houses were on fire and that came from one, so who knows how it  could spread or whatnot," Morris said.

No one was inside the home that exploded.  One of the damaged homes was empty, but five people were displaced from the other house.  A 35-year-old man fell on the ice and was injured and a two-year-old child was evaluated on the scene.

"Not much sleep," Xiong said.  "I didn't go to sleep until about 3:30 and I know the firemen were out here for, I don't know how long, but I know there was a lot of them."

The exploded home is a complete loss with a value over $118 thousand.  Morris is glad no one was seriously injured, but worries about the neighbors now without a place to stay.

"This sucks right here," Morris said.  "This is really unfortunate, especially during December."

The Red Cross was on the scene and helped the family displaced by the fire.

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