YOUNGSTOWN - A house explosion that shook a West Side neighborhood here Wednesday afternoon also rattled a few nerves.
On a break from his job as a mechanic at a nearby auto repair shop about 2:45 p.m., James Kerensky's microwave in his North Hazelwood Avenue home had just beeped and he was getting his food when 10 seconds later the house two doors down exploded.
''I heard breaking glass and the thermostat blew off the wall,'' Kerensky said as firefighters waited for an excavator from the Street Department to move debris so they could search for any bodies in the rubble.
Youngstown Fire Department Battalion Chief Frank Rosa explains the scene of a house explosion in You
No one was injured in the house that exploded at the corner of North Hazelwood and Connecticut avenues, which is vacant, and firefighters found no one under the debris, despite speculation from neighbors that a boy or teenager was inside cutting copper pipes for scrap when the house exploded.
The house was destroyed, and the vacant home next to it was heavily damaged.
''My walls are cracked and my basement windows are all broken,'' said Kerensky, who has lived in the house for less than two weeks.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Joe Gorman
Fire and utility crews inspect the damage of this vacant house at the corner of North Hazelwood and Connecticut avenues on the West Side of Youngstown that exploded Wednesday afternoon.
Fire Department Battalion Chief Frank Rosa said early indications are that it was a natural gas explosion that caused the house to blow up.
At least two people were taken to the hospital in an ambulance for injuries. A police supervisor at the scene said they were bystanders who were injured by flying debris.
The blast threw woodwork, a door, window frames and glass throughout the West Side neighborhood near the former West Elementary School. Bricks littered Connecticut Avenue.
Osvaldo Lopez Jr., 14, was at his home across the street on the porch playing with friends when the home exploded.
''A piece of wood smacked me in the face,'' he said.
His sister, Mariah Lopez, saw smoke and heard three booms, the last one being the loudest, she said.
''The last one was big,'' she said.
Rosa said firefighters smelled gas and searched as best they could without heavy equipment. Crews from Ohio Edison and Dominion East Ohio were called in to assist with repairs.
Rosa said an emergency demolition form will be filed in order to have the debris hauled away as soon as possible.
Several neighbors said they felt the blast as well as heard it. Matt Mraz lives five blocks away on Bon Air Avenue and said his whole house shook.
''It sounded like someone dropped a giant dresser in our attic,'' Mraz said.
''It sounded like a door being slammed. It shook the house,'' said another neighbor, Gordon Coyier.