One person was killed and more than a dozen people injured — including three firefighters — when a natural gas explosion leveled a home in Murrieta, Southern California on Monday, sending a wall of flames and heavy smoke into the air, officials said.

The blast took place shortly after noon in Murrieta, located about 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles, and was allegedly linked to a gas leak that happened after a private contractor was digging on the property without first checking with the gas company, according to SoCalGas officials.

The contractor did not call 811, a phone number to notify utility companies about projects that involve digging so that the utility companies can safely mark all buried lines, before him and his team began digging, SoCalGas officials told FOX11.

“No matter what you’re doing, if you’re digging, please call 811,” a SoCalGas official said.

Firefighters and Southern California Gas Co. workers had gone to the home at 11:23 a.m. following a report just before 11 a.m. that a contractor had damaged a gas line in the 23500 block of Wooden Horse Trail.

The explosion was reported at 12:10 p.m., when a gas company worker was killed, three of the injured people were firefighters and the other 12 were civilians, fire department officials said.

The explosion sent up a wall of fire and smoke and rocked nearby homes before the gas was shut off and the fire doused more than an hour later, according to FoxNews.

“It shook the house. The windows sounded like they were going to break. The walls shook,” said neighborhood resident Rebecca Byrd. “I mean, everybody was terrified.”

Murrieta Deputy Fire Chief David Lantzer said there are “no persons who are unaccounted for” following the explosion. He said he wasn’t sure if the owner of the home was inside the house at the time of the explosion. 

Residents of neighboring homes were evacuated. Officials did not have a timeline as to when they would be allowed to return to their homes, but an evacuation center was established for them at Vista Murrieta High School at 29251 Clinton Keith Road, according to ABC7.

Clinton Keith Road from Nutmeg to Carrington was closed for the investigation as Murrieta Fire and Rescue worked on a plan on when to allow residents back into their homes once damage assessments were completed, according to FOX11.

The identification of the worker that was killed has not yet been released. The investigation into the deadly blast is ongoing.

Categories: U.S. California