JEFFERSON COUNTY (KMOV.com)-- An explosion which rocked a Jefferson County neighborhood in early September is believed to have been caused by a propane gas leak, according to local authorities.
On September 9 shortly after 5 p.m., emergency crews responded to a home in the 3700 block of Clearview Drive in Byrnes Mill. Flames quickly engulfed the home, leveling the house within minutes.
According to officials, Brenda and James Ingoldsby were able to make it out of the house, but the 57-year-old James was pronounced dead at the scene.
Capt. Gary Higganbotham with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said he believes the explosion was caused by a propane gas leak.
Neighbors said the Ingoldsbys had their propane tank filled the Friday before the explosion. On Saturday, the neighbors said they complained about unexplained headaches.
After the explosion happened that Sunday night, a neighbor who rescued Brenda Ingoldsby said the explosion happened right after she turned on the hot water to take a shower.
James Ingoldsby was remembered by neighbors as a thoughtful, caring man.
"He was a good guy. A really good guy," said Jim Payrick, who lived across from the Ingoldbys for years.
The explosion sent a two-by-four through a window Peyrick would normally be sitting under as he watched TV, but he luckily wasn't there.
"It sounded like a 750-pound bomb, just like they dropped in Vietnam," he said.
Witnesses told News 4 that large smoke could be seen coming from Vista View Drive near Highway 30.
Neighbor Ben Haskins said he came outside to find debris flying in the air and sounds of Brenda screaming coming from inside home.
"There was a lady screaming that she was trapped so everyone started running towards her and pulling stuff off to free her and eventually got her loose," said Haskins.
Describing the scene, Haskins added, " It was like a movie. Everyone was running to help."
Closer look at the damage following the explosion. These pics sent from High Ridge fire officials. Crews are assessing damage to nearby homes. Still waiting for an update on the two victims @KMOV pic.twitter.com/WkvieHAIZx— Emma Hogg (@EmmaHoggTV) September 10, 2018
Tom Hayes was among those who ran to help Brenda, saying he heard her cries right away.
"Desperation. Just, 'Please help, help I'm in here I'm in here,'" he recalled. "It was hard to tell where it was coming from because it was just a pile of rubble."
Within a minute or two after the explosion, neighbors say flames erupted and grew quickly. Hayes said Brenda wouldn't leave without her husband and he had to pull her from the rubble.
That's when he saw the flames grow.
"Once we got her out, the flames just engulfed him and I couldn't get to him and felt so bad," Hayes said. "I was the last person he saw before he died."
The explosion caused structural damage to surrounding homes, including cracking some foundations, according to officials. Large amounts of debris are scattered among neighbor's yards and some rooftops.
On Monday, the Ingoldsby family released the following statement on the incident:
“Our family would like to thank all the emergency personel and first responders that worked the scene. We would also like to thank Tom Hayes for pulling Brenda from the rubble just moments after the explosion. Without his quick and heroic actions she wouldn't be here today.
Brenda sustained multiple lacerations and bruises from the blast but no major injuries. She was released from the hospital late last night. She is in complete disbelief and deeply saddened by the loss of her home and one of the family dogs and devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of her husband Jim. Jim was a thoughtful and caring man, a devoted husband and father, and doting "parent" of two dogs. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.”
Investigators are working to find out the cause of the explosion.