OMAHA, Neb. — Authorities in Omaha say two people died and two others are in critical condition after a home explosion and subsequent fire early Tuesday morning.
Following the deadly explosion, it was discovered that the homeowner, 74-year-old Theresa Toledo, had filed a petition for a domestic abuse protection orderagainst 27-year-old Alexander Toledo, stating her relationship as his grandmother.
Theresa and her daughter, Angela Toledo, both died in the fire that broke out in the 4800 block of South 51st Street. A dog also was found dead at the scene. According to the Omaha World Herald, Alexander and another person who lived in the home suffered critical injuries.
Theresa wrote in the petition, "Alex is on meth, mushrooms that I'm aware of, I haven't been able to see my grandchildren since summer because they are afraid of him as he talks to himself and says his stepfather is in his head, which is not true...he has put holes in the basement walls where he stays and you can't even walk in the basement. He has electronics in the walls & ceiling. I'm afraid he will start my house on fire."
Toledo also described her grandson's alleged criminal history with narcotics. She concluded the petition by writing, "I need Alex out of my house now before he destroys my house or harms me, the drugs make him crazy."
According to Omaha Fire Department Battalion Chief Scott Fitzpatrick, crews arrived on the scene at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, with a second alarm called at 8:23 a.m. The entire block was initially evacuated before authorities determined there was no threat to other residents.
The house that exploded is a complete loss and was leveled in the explosion. Some surrounding homes have extensive damage.
Neighbors described the scene as horrifying and said it sounded like a bomb went off.
"I heard a very loud explosion. It sounded almost like something was bombed and I flew out of the house thinking it was my house and when I got outside I could see the house was on fire and someone was running down the hill and saying to call 911," said Marianne Distefano, a neighbor.
When fire rescue arrived at the scene, the house was engulfed in flames.
"It was horrible. I mean it was just in flames and after that, smoke, but you could see it was bad. It looked like someone had bombed the house," Distefano said.
Distefano saw one neighbor jump to action. Jeff Mell ran towards the flames when he saw what was happening.
"I heard something fall, it sounded like something fell on our house, I thought it was a tree or whatever so I came out front angry and I looked down the street and saw flames coming and I automatically just started running," Mell said.
He and another neighbor wrapped a man in blankets and helped him to a safer area.
Fire investigators are probing the cause of the explosion.
"There are so many variables to tell right now, that’s why we have to investigate and kind of piece it together to see exactly what it was that made that house explode. As you can see, the explosion was pretty big," said Fitzpatrick.
The fire department said that this will be a lengthy investigation.
Read related court documents filed on Monday below.
This story was originally published by Alyssa Curtis, Danielle Meadows, Katrina Markel and other staff at KMTV.