FRANKLIN, Va. – We’re learning more about a home explosion in Franklin that left two seriously injured and more than 70 homes in the Berkley Court community without hot water for a week. We obtained the 911 calls from that terrifying night.
This is something you'll only hear on News 3.
“We just heard something loud… we don't know what it was.”
The very first 911 call after the explosion was filled with uncertainty.
“I don't know what it is, but something has hit our house. We’re scared to look."
And the many that followed were packed with panic.
“[I] saw something blow up.”
“Oh, my God!”
Some even thought they were under attack.
“Somebody threw a bomb at my window."
"Somebody threw a bomb at your window?"
The 911 operator quickly called in for backup, including Courtland emergency units and the sheriff’s office.
“I was just calling to see if you have any deputies that can go en route to the 672 Cameron Street for the explosion as well.”
Nearby residents say that panic was quickly replaced with frustration.
It’s been an entire week since the duplex on the corner of Campbell Avenue and Cameron Street exploded - meaning an entire week with without hot water.
Let’s say you want to take a shower. You would have to leave your home and walk all the way over here to the mobile shower units that were set up on the property.
According to the Franklin City Manager Amanda Jarratt, the company that manages the property, the Maryland-based Severn Companies, has yet to inspect the gas lines.
That means those mobile shower units, which lock at night and don't open until 6:30 a.m., are how Berkley Court residents can get a hot shower.
If residents don’t want to use the mobile units - which also do not appear to be wheelchair accessible - they can travel about five minutes down the road to Love’s Travel Stop, where Severn has arranged for them to shower.
On Friday, Severn issued its first statement addressing the incident. The company says they're working with a construction management and consulting expert to conduct an exterior review of all buildings and will follow up with interior inspections as needed.
The two families who have been displaced have been given hotel rooms and food vouchers.
Severn said they working with the city and other officials to determine what caused the explosion. They're also making arrangements to have the gas lines inspected. Until then, the lines will remain shut off for safety.
You can read the company's full statement below:
We understand the impact the recent incident has made to the Berkley Court Apartment community. At this time, we are working as quickly as possible to put several solutions in place to not only provide access to hot showers, but to ensure that the entire property is safe.
The following have been implemented as of Friday morning:
- As an immediate and temporary solution to hot water not being available for showers, an onsite shower trailer has been provided and is already operational. This will give all residents of the Berkley Court Apartments community access to private stall showers. Safety protocol for cleaning the showers in between uses has also been put in place. (Out of respect and privacy for our community, we ask that the media please refrain from filming of the shower facilities or trailer.)
- As a secondary option, we have made arrangements for safe, private and hot showers at the Love’s located in Franklin for no charge. Residents have been provided details on how to access these showers.
For the two families displaced from their homes due to damage caused by the incident, they have been provided rooms at local hotels, as well as food vouchers.
Except for a few limited cases, that are currently being managed, there have been no reports of any structural damage to other apartments. However, in an effort to ensure the safety of residents, we have engaged a construction management and consulting expert to conduct an exterior review of all buildings today (Friday) and follow-up with interior inspections as needed.
Gas lines have been cut off at its source to ensure safety. We are currently working closely with the City of Franklin, local and state law enforcement, fire officials, and others to determine the cause of the incident. As required by the State, and for the safety and confidence of our residents, we are in the process now of making arrangements for the gas lines to be inspected to ensure that they are safe. The gas lines will remain shut off from the source until safety inspections are finalized. We feel it is critically important for our residents to know that their homes are safe for them and their families, and we are working hard to minimize the inconvenience to residence through this process.
We will continue to update the residents of Berkley Court Apartments with frequent communications to ensure they are aware of the steps that are being taken to have gas, and hot water, restored.