A massive explosion leveled a home and rocked a neighborhood in Arlington, Va., on Monday night as police tried to investigate a man who shot a flare gun from his residence, officials said.
No serious injuries were reported, but the fate of the suspect, who was believed to be inside the house at the time of the explosion, is still unclear.
Video posted to social media showed the house disappearing under a ball of fire, lobbing debris into the night air and sending wreckage raining down onto the suburb of Washington, D.C. Neighbors said the blast could be heard and felt for miles.
Here’s an overview of what we know.
— c “” maj (@connormaj) December 5, 2023
What happened in the moments leading up to the explosion?
Arlington County police said in a statement that they were first called to the 800 block of N. Burlington Street around 4:45 p.m. ET after receiving a report of possible gunshots.
The neighborhood, known as Bluemont, is in a leafy suburb of Washington D.C., filled with brick duplexes, condos and single-family residences.
During a preliminary investigation, police found that the suspect had fired a flare gun 30 to 40 times from inside his residence, a duplex, into the surrounding neighborhood.
Officers obtained a search warrant for the house and said they attempted to make contact with the suspect through loudspeakers and over the phone, but he didn’t initially respond.
As officers attempted to execute the warrant, they heard several rounds of what they believed to be a firearm coming from inside the home. The explosion came shortly after, around 8:25 p.m.
Police said the exact circumstances of the explosion are still under investigation. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said federal fire agents are assisting the investigation.
Was anyone injured?
Three officers reported minor injuries, but none were transported to the hospital. It’s unclear what happened to the suspect, who was inside the home when it was leveled. Police have yet to release the suspect’s name or identity.
Police don’t have evidence that others were in the duplex at the time of the explosion but haven’t ruled that out as a possibility, a police spokesperson told the Associated Press.
What did neighbors see and hear?
Residents could hear and feel the explosion for miles around Arlington County, where the average population is over 9,000 people per square mile.
Kathleen Boyce, who lives just around the block, said she was watching the house through a gap in her neighbor’s yard after hearing sirens and watching police activity unfold all night.
“I heard this pounding, and I thought maybe it was the police in the street,” she recalled on Tuesday. “Then there was this explosion, and I could see it went up 30 or 40 feet in the air.”
“I’ve lived here more than 20 years,” she said, adding that the explosion knocked down some of her wall hangings. “I walk past there all the time. It’s a little frightening to think what’s going on in these houses.”
Allison Van Lare said she felt the explosion nearly three miles away, in her neighborhood of Shirlington.
“I heard something like air popping, and then the fence started rattling intensely, almost like a sonic boom,” she said.
The explosion also attracted the attention of top Virginia officials stationed as far away as Richmond.
Monitoring the emergency response to a major explosion in the Bluemont neighborhood of Arlington tonight. This is very, very scary, and my profound thanks go out to first responders working to secure the area and keep everyone safe.
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) December 5, 2023
Virginia Rep. Don Beyer thanked first responders and said he was monitoring the “very, very scary” circumstances.
A fire that raged in the explosion’s aftermath was deemed under control as of 10:30 p.m., but crews continued to extinguish smaller spot fires throughout the evening, according to the Arlington County Fire Department.
More than 160 power outages were initially reported in the area, but that number had decreased to 19 as of Tuesday morning. Source npr.org