CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A man who called 911 from a home leveled by a fire and booming explosion in North Carolina's largest city has been rescued with life-threatening injuries, authorities said Tuesday.
Charlotte Fire Chief Reginald Johnson told reporters that the man, who he described as a resident, called emergency operators to tell them he was trapped inside the shattered home. Johnson said the man was taken by helicopter to a hospital with injuries the chief described as life-endangering.
Johnson said the man was able to tell operators where he was in the home, but didn't say what caused the blast.
The chief also said firefighters were still conducting a rescue operation, but didn't say if anyone else was still in the rubble.
Charlotte Fire Department Battalion Chief Matt Westover confirmed at an earlier news briefing that an operation was being carried out but he wouldn't elaborate on the mission. His department tweeted earlier that it had to summon additional emergency responders following the blast.
Area resident Paul Aarons told The Charlotte Observer his entire house shook and he heard a massive boom. The blast seemed so close that he thought someone was driving into his garage.
Aerial coverage of the scene showed wood scattered at the site and debris blown into the adjacent street as well as into some surrounding trees and nearby yards. Firefighters used a ladder truck to get closer to the flames that erupted from the explosion.
Westover said other homes in the vicinity of the explosion were safe, but homes nearby received significant damage. An emergency medical services agency, Charlotte Medic, told news outlets two people living in surrounding homes were being evaluated for injuries that weren't considered life-threatening.
Reports indicated firefighters were in full gear when they reached the scene but were down to their T-shirts as they worked amid the rubble in scorching heat. Temperatures in Charlotte by Tuesday afternoon had climbed into the 90s. A photo credited to the department showed some firefighters sitting under a tree and around several large coolers.
Later, firefighters set up a red tent where several had gathered. Westover said about 84 firefighters were at the scene.