A video has captured the moment firefighters in Washington, D.C., were jolted backward when an explosion ripped through a convenience store just minutes after a similar blast at a daycare next door.
Fire and EMS Chief John Donnelly told reporters Thursday that both blasts in the southeast Anacostia neighborhood unfolded after first responders discovered a leaking gas meter that previously had been struck by a vehicle in front of the buildings.
Video of the second explosion, which was taken from the dashcam of the first firetruck to arrive on the scene, shows three firefighters reacting as a fiery blast sends debris flying out into the street.
One person in the background appears to be hit by the debris before falling to the ground. Donnelly said their injuries were minor.
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Fire crews were initially summoned to the area around 9:30 a.m. after receiving a 911 call about a gas leak.
First responders then began evacuating buildings and about 25 minutes later, the first explosion happened in the building housing the daycare, generating a fire, Donnelly said.
“When I saw the building itself my mouth fell open,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said at the scene. “Because if the children had been in that building, they would have very definitely been impacted by that explosion.”
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Then the second explosion happened at the convenience store next door, causing that building to collapse, according to Donnelly.
Firefighters determined that the gas meter had been leaking in an area below its shutoff valve, making it uncontrollable at the time.
Fire and EMS Lt. Ryan Bolton said daycare staff were preparing the children to evacuate when firefighters arrived.
All 16 children inside the daycare were later reunited with their families.
“A really great job by first responders and the operators of the daycare. We’re very proud of them,” Donnelly said.