LANCASTER, S.C. -- An explosion rocked Lancaster County, SC, just before midnight Friday, destroying one home and damaging at least nine others.
The explosion at the home on Cane Mill Road, just south of Lancaster, could be felt for miles around. It led people more than a dozen miles away to wonder if it was an earthquake.
“My dad said it's the loudest thing he ever heard in his entire life,” said Melissa Pate, whose father lives next door to the house that was destroyed. “It actually lifted him out of his bed.”
“It felt like an earthquake -- a sonic boom,” agreed Michael Pate. “And now there's just nothing. It's just leveled.”
As the sun rose over the property, only a widespread pile of bricks and the remnants of what appeared to be a wall was left. Insulation and debris were scattered across a field north of the house and stuck in the trees.
“I can't say I've seen one quite this bad,” said Fire Marshal Stephen Blackwelder. “It kind of looks like a tornado sat down on this house.”
Investigators from Lancaster County Fire Service and South Carolina’s State Law Enforcement Department, or SLED, started early and stayed late sifting through debris for a cause.
Blackwelder said there is a strong possibility natural gas may have contributed to the explosion, but investigators may not even be able to find enough evidence to be sure.
The gas company will return to the home to check the lines again, said investigators.
Property records show the home belongs to Layton Crenshaw, a heating and air conditioning contractor. He and his family were vacationing in the mountains Friday night and no one was injured in the blast.
Chris Wood, who lives across the street, assessed his own damage Saturday afternoon. Ceiling panels hung from his front porch, lights hung from wires, and crawl space vents lay in his yard, where they were blown during the explosion.
The wall of his garage even bowed out a little – a strange sight considering it bowed the opposite direction of the blast’s path.
“It just kind of blew my mind,” he said. “I've never seen anything like that.”
His first fear when he saw the Crenshaw’s home on fire was that they were inside. When he found out they weren’t, he and his wife were relieved.
“We were worried to death,” he said.
Friends and family members looked through the rubble after investigators left the scene, but declined to talk to media. Neighbors like Wood stopped by to lend support.