PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A massive explosion at a single-family house in Port Washington that killed one person and injured five firefighters may have been intentional, fire officials said Wednesday.
Fire officials said the explosion appears to have been deliberately set with flammable liquids.
Just after 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, police said two officers responded to the home on Prospect Avenue on a report of a domestic dispute, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.
As CBS 2’s Don Champion reported, when officers arrived at the home on Prospect Avenue, a 39-year-old woman, whom neighbors identified as Angela MacNeill, and her 2-year-old daughter were inside.
Covered by a jacket, a woman identified as MacNeill returned to the house to get her belongings Wednesday afternoon, after police said she and her daughter narrowly escaped disaster.
The officers who arrived at their home smelled gas and just as they were getting the mom and toddler outside, they say the detached garage exploded and burst into flames.
Witnesses reported a huge fireball and thick clouds of black smoke from the blast.
“Like a bomb,” neighbor John Pedone told CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell. “I live a thousand yards from here and my house shook.”
“I was standing outside when the garage blew up,” another witness told WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs. “The garage blew up. I mean blew up.”
“Big explosion and there was all this screaming and yelling, ‘get out, get out, get out,'” said witness Chris Crowley.
The flames quickly spread and caused damage to some neighboring homes and property, police said.
“You could feel the heat from our house,” Crowley said. “You could see the flames above the houses across the street from us.”
Port Washington fire officials now say some accelerant was used in the fire, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
“How we didn’t lose our house is a testament to the volunteer firemen,” neighbor Richard Baiocco said.
The vinyl siding on Baiocco’s home was melted in the fire.
A total of 150 firefighters from 17 fire departments responded to the scene.
Police said a body was found in the garage. The identity of that person has not yet been released, but police said MacNeill’s husband, Mike MacNeill, is unaccounted for, Rivera reported.
Court documents obtained by CBS 2 showed the couple was in the process of getting a divorce. Adding to the mystery was a post on the husband’s Facebook page from December.
Showing cans and tanks, the caption read, “If you’re gonna go out with a bang, might as well do it right with 25 gallons of gas and 40lbs of propane.”
A source told CBS 2’s Champion that Michael MacNeill recently battled alcoholism and had just gotten out of rehab.
Investigators said it will take several days to confirm the identity of the body found in the garage.
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