Norton, VA — Norton and Virginia State Police are investigating the cause of an early Sunday explosion and fire that left one dead and two injured in Norton.
Norton Fire Chief Todd Lagow said city dispatchers received the call of a house fire with explosions at 2:27 a.m. Police and emergency personnel arrived three minutes later to find the 524 Virginia Ave. NE home ablaze.
Norton Police told firefighters that a juvenile was missing while three adults escaped the house, Lagow said. Two of the adults were taken to a local hospital and then to a burn center. The third survivor was not injured, he added.
Damage to the house included a carport roof collapsed on an SUV, interior damage to the upper and ground floor stories and blown-out windows.
Jennifer Miller, who lives next to the scene with her husband, said they and several friends were in their backyard Saturday and early Sunday morning celebrating her husband’s birthday when they smelled propane gas.
Miller said she went inside her house shortly before the explosion when she heard what she first thought was gunfire and then screams. She said the blast blew out several windows at the other house and moved a propane tank about 15 feet away from the structure. The tank appeared intact.
Miller said she saw two young females coming from the street in front of 524, one of them with melted hair.
An adult female with burns came out of the back of the house and jumped from the back deck into the backyard, Miller said. People attending the party pushed down a fence between the two houses before bringing her to the Millers’ yard to help her.
Miller’s husband and another man tried to reach a boy through a window, but a dresser blocked part of the window.
“They tried to get him to come out the window,” said Miller, “but he kept saying, ‘I can’t, I can’t.’”
Several dogs were also trapped in the house, Miller added.
Miller said the victims moved into the house in May.
“They were friendly, but we didn’t talk a lot,” said Miller. “Our dog would go over to their yard, and they’d pet it, and we talked some but not a lot.”