Sonya McCollum was watching the house next door and listening to a hissing sound, when she turned away to call Columbia Gas.
Just a moment after walking away from the window, a massive explosion shook the walls of her two-story home on North Huron Street, shattering at least one window.
“I grabbed her and we ran into a corner and then ran outside,” said a shaking Mrs. McCollum, pointing to a woman standing with her. “I was so scared. It could have been me.”
The house next to Mrs. McCollum’s exploded Thursday afternoon, although officials weren't sure why.
PHOTO GALLERY: House comes crashing down on Huron Street
Toledo Fire Department officials estimated the damage at $40,000.
Several neighbors said they saw someone running from the home carrying a hot-water tank not long before the house collapsed.
The property at 1448 N. Huron St. is owned by North River Homes, part of a United North tax-credit housing project, said Terry Glazer, chief executive officer.
Mr. Glazer said the two-story house, built in 1999, has been vacant for about a week and a half.
After the last tenant moved out, the North Toledo organization did a walk-through of the property and noted some needed repairs, but Mr. Glazer said the house was generally in good condition.
He speculated that vandalism was the cause of the explosion, which was reported just before 1:15 p.m.
“It’s kind of amazing to see the house totally down,” Mr. Glazer said, watching as Toledo firefighters and police officers walked around the perimeter of the property.
Neighbors said they heard the blast from several blocks away.
James Wright, who lives in the 700 block of Stickney Avenue, said he was sitting outside when he saw the walls of his home rattle and heard “one really big boom.”
“It was just like the Fourth of July fireworks in downtown,” he said.
Beverly Baugher said the explosion, to her, seemed like an earthquake or a city truck crashing into another vehicle.
Tim Smith, who lives several houses away but on the opposite side of Huron, said he was walking between two houses when, seemingly simultaneously, he heard a boom, saw the house collapse, and a ball of fire roll through the inside and out from the roof.
The street in front of the collapsed property was covered in broken glass.
The home’s front door was blasted from its hinges and flew onto the devil’s strip, the section of grass between the sidewalk and street, across Huron.
Fire Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld estimated that the blast radius extended 35 to 40 feet from the front and back of the house. The two houses on either side had “shrapnel damage,” he said, noting that an entire wall was leaning on 1444 N. Huron.
There were initial conflicting reports of whether anyone was inside the property, although officials did not believe anyone was trapped or injured. Heavy equipment was called to pick through the rubble. No one was found inside the wreckage.
There were no injuries, but the local chapter of the American Red Cross provided assistance to four adults and five children from the house next door that had minor structural damage, Lieutenant Hertzfeld said.
Staff writer Kelly McLendon contributed to this report.
Contact Taylor Dungjen at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.