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OSCEOLA, Ark. — An apparent natural gas explosion destroyed a woman’s home and damaged seven others in Osceola, Arkansas, Wednesday.
Neighbors on Mockingbird Lane said it was like a bomb going off, or even like an earthquake rattling their quiet neighborhood.
Forty-seven-year-old Debbie Porter was airlifted to Memphis after her home at 117 Mockingbird Lane was blown to bits around 5 Wednesday morning.
The Osceola Police Department and Fire Department, along with a team from the Source Gas Company, have been investigating the cause of the gas leak.
Neighbors are picking the pieces after debris from the explosion left a trail of damage.
The tragedy on Mockingbird Lane has been the talk of Osceola. Carolyn Sanderson has friends on Mockingbird Lane and went to check on them when her cellphone started ringing.
“Oh honey, we had a horrible thing this morning. A house on Mockingbird blew up. I mean blew up,” she said.
The explosion Wednesday morning leveled the house at 117 Mockingbird Lane, where Porter had been living for just a few months.
The blast was so strong, it had neighbors like Pat Chilton and her family literally shaking in their beds.
“The first thing that occurred to me was ‘earthquake.’ But when we got out of the bed and there was no shaking, I knew that it had to be something else,” Chilton said.
Since daylight Wednesday, Chilton has been picking up pieces of glass from the shattered windows on her house.
One of her daughters was hit in the head with a picture frame, jarred loose by the explosion. She was not seriously injured.
Across the street from Chilton’s house, there’s little more than a pile of wood where Porter’s house once stood.
Osceola Police Chief David Gladden told News Channel 3 Porter was alone around when she started to lit a cigarette and the house exploded.
Sharon Raigan lives a half block away and said the explosion was frightening.
“I heard this big “boom” and I thought it was thunder,” she said.
She managed to take some pictures while the house was still smoldering.
“It’s just unbelievable. I just hope the girl is going to be OK,” she said.
As many as seven houses were damaged by flying debris, but none as bad as Andre Harris’, which is directly next door to Porter’s.
“All the windows have been blown out. The house is knocked off its foundation. The fire chief came in and told me it was totally unlivable,” Harris said.
Harris was at work when the explosion happened and rushed home. He’s thankful his wife Casandra was able to get herself and their three children safely out of the house, even though one of the children was covered in broken glass.
Wednesday, the Harris’ were packing up and moving out while trying to avoid shards of glass and a collapsing ceilings. Casandra said everything happened very quickly, but she instinctively got her children to safety.
“I don’t even know how to explain it. It was very scary…very scary,” she said.
Porter is in fair condition at Regional Medical Center in Memphis.