FOLLANSBEE - One person was killed and four others transported to area hospitals by medical helicopter or ambulance following an explosion that destroyed a home at 2481 Eldersville Road at about 7 a.m. today.
The names of the five victims weren't immediately available.
Several area emergency departments were dispatched to the home in the Follansbee suburb after a large blast was heard from as far as Steubenville, Weirton and Wellsburg.
Officials were unable to confirm reports that someone smelled natural gas in the area and alerted the Hooverson Heights Volunteer Fire Department before the explosion. The department has a substation not far from the house.
Debris was strewn over a wide radius. The front door of a brick home across the street was blown out and its windows were shattered.
There were shards of glass everywhere, and a hair dryer was embedded in the grass.
"This house right here, all the windows were shattered and the door was blown off the hinges. That house back there, the basement door was blown open and all the cupboards blown open," said Kim Stoneking, who lives near the site of the blast.
Stoneking, who lives about a mile away, said, "I thought lightning had struck a house or a tree had fallen, I went running around the house to see what was wrong. It was too big to be a car wreck."
Louie Headman said he heard the boom from his home in the Allison Acres area of Hooverson Heights.
"I've lived in Follansbee all my life. This is probably one of the worst I've seen, one of the worst," said Headman, who said the impact awakened him.
"I heard the explosion and my house shook. I figured it might be something in the neighborhood. I could see the smoke from the front of my house. You could see the smoke from the other side of the hill," he said.
(Staff writer Warren Scott contributed to this report.)