Family shocked following house explosion in Marmaduke

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

MARMADUKE, AR (KAIT) - An explosion in Marmaduke terrified a family when they thought one of their family members was in the home.

Assistant Fire Chief, Matthew Pruett, with the Marmaduke Fire Department said a number of phone calls started coming in immediately.

"We had multiple 911 calls,  they were talking about multiple explosions. And then there at the end we got another call saying there was a home on fire as well. When we got there, we had massive fire throughout the house," Pruett said. "It was a significant fire load. We had some metal roofing that appeared to be scattered throughout the backyard. That correlates with the multiple calls of an explosion. It's a little different than what you would expect on an explosion. It's under investigation. There are some ties there that make us believe the explosion possibly occurred. We have an investigator that was there last night that did some investigating. They're supposed to be back, possibly today in the daylight hours to check up on it and do some further investigation. So, at this point, we're just going along with the 911 calls that were called in. As well as some of the things that point to some type of an explosion. But I have nothing further at this point of any indication of what exploded or why or how."

Grandfather Doyne Vangilder said he got the worst phone call he'll ever get.

"We were inside watching a movie, my phone rang and I handed it to my wife and my wife told me my daughter's house was on fire. By the time I ran out and went towards her house, I could see smoke going across the neighbor's yard," Vangilder said. "And by the time I reached the backyard, by then the flames were coming out of the front and out of the top of the roof. It was just like, it's so hard to explain. It happened so fast."

Vangilder said he was afraid for the life of his 14-year-old grandson Landon.

"My grandson was sick that day and didn't go to school," Vangilder said. "And I thought he was in the house. And I don't know who it was, but somebody got me and dragged me back. Because I was going in after him. And I couldn't get a hold of my daughter. I couldn't get a hold of my grandson. And I just wanted him safe. And ended up he was with her, thank God. I got the best thing I could get out of all of this. My family safe."

Fortunately, 14-year-old Landon McClung wasn't at the home when the fire started.

"We're basically backing up and regrouping from last night," Vangilder said. "All that has happened. I think the reality is starting to kick in. Dealing with the insurance after we went back over there this morning and looked at everything and evaluated what we had totally lost. I think that was the hardest issue, was we realized our family was safe, everybody was secure. We just kind of bonded together during the night. But after that and like I said, this morning, reality really kicked in when we actually walked over there and looked at everything. It's just waiting now. To do the insurance and figure out where we stand and of course, the neighbors had damage. We need to determine that damage with the insurance adjustor and go from there and see where we're at."

Pruett said they were called to the scene around 5:20 in the evening.

He said they were there within two minutes of the call and it took them about 30 to 40 minutes to get the fire out.

"We responded with two engines and a ladder," Pruett said. "I requested Rector Fire and Northeast Fire for manpower. Also, the AMMC ambulance service was standing by for the initial call that somebody was trapped. But no one was. Everyone was accounted for and not in the home. No injuries were reported and no one was at home at the time."

Pruett said they could use the community's help in determining the cause of the fire.

"If there's anybody that has any videos or pictures of the initial fire prior to the fire department's arrival it would be a tremendous help to us," Pruett said. "To look and see what the condition of the house was prior to our arrival. I know what we had when we got there, but I'd like to see something prior to us getting there. Just to see what the condition of the house was. If we can find any clues in the video or pictures."

Pruett said they've been in contact with ATF, but that's standard practice.

"We were contacted by ATF last night, and that's just protocol of any type of an explosion, especially in a home," Pruett said. "We've also contacted the state police, fire marshals office and we have our own fire investigator that's a member of the fire department. He did an investigation last night and is going to continue doing that as well. Just working with the other agencies to try and figure out what happened."

Vangilder said they were able to go into what was left of the home.

They've only been able to recover some family photographs and a few documents.

"Last night they were able to go inside," Vangilder said. "There were family pictures that, I actually can't believe it, but they're here. There's pictures of my son that passed away. There's pictures of them on vacation. There's pictures of our whole family, your whole life is laying right here on this floor. And out of everything that was lost, these look like brand new don't they? It's just amazing."

Vangilder said he and his family would appreciate everyone's prayers.

"Just keep praying," Vangilder said. "We go to church and our church offered to help and I just asked that they would pray and hold off right now until we can determine where we're at. And what we have to do from this point on. What steps we need to take further."

The home was under construction at the time of the fire.

Two parents and three children were living in the home at the time.

They're now staying with relatives.

The family has a Go Fund Me account under the name Jennifer Vangilder.

If you have any pictures or video of the home, there are a number of different ways to share it with investigators.

You can take it to the Marmaduke City Hall or share it on the Marmaduke Firefighters Facebook page called Marmaduke Fire Rescue.

You can also email it to Marmaduke Police Chief Steve Franks at sfranks@marmadukear.com

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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