Homes flattened, windows blown out

Daily Journal staff reports

A Greenwood teacher and her husband are believed to have been killed in their southside home Saturday night in an explosion that demolished a neighborhood and left residents wondering what caused the blast that could be felt miles away.

Jennifer Longworth, a second-grade teacher at Southwest Elementary School, and her husband John Dion are believed to be the two people killed when their home in Richmond Hill exploded. Police have not released the names of the victims, but the couple owned one of two homes on Fieldfare Way that exploded and have not been heard from.

Seven other people were injured and at least 80 homes were damaged. Two homes were demolished in the explosion, but the cause has not been determined.

Families started Sunday returning to the neighborhood that was partly leveled by the explosion, described as massive. Residents in the subdivision and neighboring communities describe feeling as though their homes were lifted and slammed back to earth. Garage doors, windows and doors were blown out, cars were buried under rubble and fires raged.

Residents returned slowly, with police or fire escorts, to the neighborhood to find streets clogged with police cars, windows broken out blocks away from the blast site, buckled garage doors and piles of charred rubble where neighbors had raised their kids. Loose bricks lay strewn in the street.

The residents were allowed to retrieve family photos, important financial papers and prized possessions. Those whose houses had little damage, such as a single window busted out by the shock wave or siding flying through the air, were allowed back home while several utility companies worked to restore service.

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