Men hospitalized after house explodes, catches fire

(Photo: Madeleine Wright/WPRI)

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Two people were taken to Rhode Island Hospital Friday after a house exploded and caught fire.

A neighbor called 911 around 6 a.m. Friday to report the explosion at 230 Hemlock Road in South Kingstown. Two men knocked on the neighbor’s door asking for help after a fire started inside the home.

“They went to seek aid once the house was on fire. The neighbors were helping them until the rescue arrived,” said Steve Pinch of the Union Fire District.

Officials said the men suffered serious injuries and were taken to the hospital. Their names have not yet been released. Investigators said one of the men has burns to about 90-percent of his body, while the other man received burns to about 30-percent of his body.

The flames were put out in 10 minutes but the house suffered damage. Investigators are now working to figure out what caused the explosion.

Eyewitness News has learned from one investigator that Butane Hash Oil (BHO) is being looked at as one possible cause of the fire.

Investigators remained on the scene throughout the day Friday.

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“At this point we are in the infancy stage of our investigation,” said State Fire Marshal John Chartier. “We know for sure there was an explosion.”

Agents from the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and members of the Drug Enforcement Administration responded to the scene, along with a hazmat crew.

The blast woke up many people who live nearby, and the sound of busy firefighters woke up the rest of the neighborhood.

“We heard the fire trucks and everything going down the street, and since that time we haven’t been allowed to come over here,” said Sarah Johnson, a resident of the neighborhood.

Mutual aid was also called in from several surrounding communities to assist.

Neighbors said they believed the house was empty for a long time.

“I walk by here everyday… And the house that you’re talking about or had the explosion is one that’s been empty for a really long time, so I was kind of surprised that anything happened there. We assumed it was empty,” said Sara Johnson.

Meanwhile, firefighters have reassured people that live nearby that the neighborhood is safe.

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