VIENNA, Mo. — The Missouri State Fire Marshal is still looking for a cause behind a home explosion in Maries County that injured six firefighters.
It happened outside Vienna, Missouri, which is about 120 miles southwest of St. Louis.
The Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman said the explosion occurred Friday morning while firefighters were extinguishing a blaze at a house in the 13000 block of Highway 28 West. The injuries ranged from moderate to severe burns and cuts from flying debris.
"Please keep our firemen in your prayers and remember these brave men and women are volunteers who run into danger with no pay. We will keep you updated as best we can," the Maries County Sheriff's Office posted on Facebook.
“It had a ton of force, which knocked down the front wall of the building," said firefighter Mason Smith. "It literally knocked you to the ground you felt the force and heat from it. I was in full gear except for my hands.”
Smith said firefighters were just beginning to attack the blaze when the house exploded.
“I was terrified," he said. "I was just trying to get my bearings, you know?”
The injured firefighters were rushed to hospitals in three communities. Five of them were treated and released; the sixth will stay at least overnight. Mason Smith suffered second-degree burns to his fingers.
“It doesn’t look pretty and it hurts," he said. "They gave me pain enough medication.”
The sheriff thinks the explosion was caused by propane gas. He’s said there’s no indication right now of foul play.
The sheriff wanted people to know a fund has been established for the volunteer firefighters at a local bank.
"They did risk their lives today. There’s a chance they could have lost their lives today," Heitman said. "They’re not paid firemen, they’re not going to have wages while they’re off work. They’re going to have to miss several days of work.”
The home has been in one family for three decades. Family members were in the process of renovating it; installing a new roof and appliances, new paint, and now this.
Mary Hefner’s sister and brother-in-law own the home.
“So devastating. All the birthday parties we had here, all the dinners, and Fourth of July, then you see this," she said.