HazMat team called back to scene of deadly Tech Terrace house ex - FOX34 Lubbock

HazMat team called back to scene of deadly Tech Terrace house explosion

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tech terrace explosion tech terrace explosion
John Fleming, 72 John Fleming, 72
Rodica Gelca, 45 Rodica Gelca, 45
LUBBOCK, Texas -

A HazMat team was called back to the scene of a house explosion where two people died in a house explosion in Tech Terrace.

The team was able to decontaminate the house near 21st and Elgin after reports of an ammonia tank leaking.

Homeowner John Fleming, 72, was pronounced deceased at the scene. His neighbor who came over to help, Rodica Gelca, 45, died at the hospital. 

When fire crews arrived just after 10 Tuesday night, the house was fully engulfed and multiple explosions occurred at the scene. 

Two others were taken to the hospital and are expected to recover.

Onlookers were told to stay away from the scene due to potentially hazardous fumes. Lubbock Fire Rescue reports Wednesday a HazMat team has been monitoring the area and haven't found any contaminants. 

Three LFR firefighters who were injured fighting the blaze were treated and released.

Less than 100 feet from the home, resident Kris Olson, who lives directly behind this fence, recalled the moment she felt the explosion.

"I ran screaming downstairs for my teenage children to make sure there wasn't something in the house that had fallen," Olson said. "That was my first reaction, what has fallen in our house on them because it felt like something that was within the house." 

 She said she only noticed the fire once she and her family got outside.

"We went back in, got our boys, grabbed a handful of stuff and lots of neighbors out being helpful, offering their homes, offering to help us, 'cause we were of course scared the fire would spread to our house and start a fire," Olson said.

Neighbors said it was so powerful they could hear and feel the explosion from blocks away. The blast even blew out a few windows.

Ellen Hilliard, who lives six houses down, said debris crashed through the roof of the house next door to her.

"I'm just sitting on my bed watching television," Hilliard said, "and my bed jumps up about three inches off the ground." 

Hilliard said her neighbor fortunately vacated the room where the debris crashed just moments before the incident.

"Her roommate had actually called her into the room about a minute earlier," Hilliard explained, "and it landed right onto her bed, like directly into her bedroom." 

A shaken up Hilliard still ran outside to help however she could.

"Tech terrace is a very small community in itself and everybody was just trying to figure out what was going on, offer a helping hand," Hilliard said. "I had paper towels, there was blood really everywhere." 

According to the homeowner's LinkedIn account, he ran the business E2Amm, LLC out of his home. The company manufactures hydrogen and ammonia modules, focusing on alternative fuel sources.

The fire marshals haven't said if the chemicals caused the explosion, but do not think it's criminal in nature.

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