Neighbors describe what they heard and saw during house explosio - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Neighbors describe what they heard and saw during house explosion

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MADISON (WKOW) -- As investigators continue to make their way through the debris field after a house explosion, neighbors are sharing their accounts of what they saw and heard during the powerful blast. 

It was an ordinary summer day on the 7800 block of Stratton Way in Madison's southwest side. Then, the unimaginable happened. 

"It was this big boom," said Cory Zeman as he described the house explosion that rocked his neighborhood. 

"I live in a six unit building and it felt like a semi-truck bolted into my building. It visibly shook me," he said, still shaken by what happened. 

Soon after the blast, neighbors started coming out of their homes to see what happened. Janet and Joe Tegtmeier lived just three houses down from the single-family home that exploded. They were working from home when they felt the jolt. The couple says their home wasn't damaged, but a few pictures did fall off their walls. 

They stepped outside and saw the destruction. 

"It was gone. The flames were 20-30 feet high," said Janet. 

"Higher than the treetops," Joe added. "Never thought that our house would be within a crime scene zone. Yeah, that hasn't happened before," Janet said in disbelief. 

Their home was so close, fire fighters said the family won't be able to stay at their residence for the next couple of days. 

"We do have neighbors who are literally right across the lot line that are letting us stay at their home and we really appreciate that. That's really helpful," Joe said graciously. 

As the sun set on the neighborhood on Wednesday night, Diane Sailing and her husband Cory Betz looked on at the damage. 

"The house is just like totally gone," Sailing said. 

The two of them were at work on Raymond road when the blast shook their neighborhood. 

"We saw several firetrucks go by and it just kept going and going and going. And I said, Cory, we better check this out," Sailing explained. 

When they got to their street, they couldn't believe what they were witnessing. 

"The smoke was several feet high and there was still enough fire on the ground yet," Sailing said as she recalled what she saw up close. 

The couple managed to get close to the scene and saw the extent of the damage. Madison Fire Chief Steven Davis said the debris field was scattered around a 400-foot radius. From splintered wood, to torn insulation, to walls and windows, all of it was around the street and yard. Investigators spent much of the afternoon searching through it for any possible victims. 

"There's glass everywhere. There was a truck that was parked in the driveway and you can't see that," said Sailing. 

She's familiar with the house since she has ran by it several times. 

"They had a closed-in fence and backyard patio. The house was just gorgeous," she recalled. 

For Betz, the scene reminds him of another house explosion that happened just last year. 

"Stories of the Fitchburg explosion not too long ago. It makes you, it's in the back of your mind," he said. 

The couple and other neighbors are just grateful no one was critically hurt. 

"It should have been (different). Because every single day you have people walking their dogs, kids and you know just people walking in general," Sailing said. 

Authorities said the area will be closed off at least through Thursday. They are asking the public to stay away from the scene so investigators can continue their work as thoroughly and quickly as possible. 

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