Home explosions occur far too frequently in the United States.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments in the U.S. respond to an average of one home fire every 88 seconds. Between 2012 and 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 355,400 home structure fires per year, fires that caused 11,670 civilian injuries, 2,560 civilian deaths, and $6.5 billion in direct damage.
Here is a look at two recent incidents involving home explosions and their aftermaths:
Charlotte home explosion kills wife, injures husband
From news services: A Charlotte home explosion Tuesday afternoon left a woman dead and her husband hospitalized, officials said.
The explosion happened before 2 p.m. at a home on James Jack Lane, which is off Ballantyne Commons Parkway in the Ballantyne neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina. Rescue crews found the woman, identified as Rania Karam, 58, at the home hours after the explosion.
Karam was pronounced dead at the scene.
Crews found Karam’s body only after searching for almost seven hours in the wreckage of the large home, said Matt Westover, Fire Department battalion chief. “It was a difficult process to locate her,” Westover said.
Her body was found downstairs, which made the search more difficult.
Charlotte home explosion: husband hospitalized
Rania’s husband, Jabran Karam, also was inside the home at the time of the explosion. Officials said he called 911 from underneath the wreckage using an Apple Watch, and he gave crews information that helped them locate himself and his wife.
Jabran Karam was airlifted to a hospital. His condition has not been released, but officials said he was alert and conscious when he was freed from the rubble.
“We were deeply saddened to hear about this incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Karam family during this difficult time,” said Cheryl Mitchem, with Raleigh General Hospital, where Jabran Karam worked. “Dr. Jebran Karam is a tremendous cardiologist, physician and advocate for his patients. We wish him a full and fast recovery.”
Charlotte home explosion: debris everywhere
Soon after the Charlotte home explosion, numerous neighbors reported that debris struck their homes.
Officials said that two nearby residents were hospitalized with non life-threatening injuries. Their identities have not been released, and it is unclear how they were injured.
Aerial footage from a WBTV Sky3 helicopter showed the home to be completely destroyed. Flames and smoke were coming from the rubble, and debris littered the area.
Charlotte home explosion: ‘Everything shook’
“The whole house shook. Everything shook. The desk shook, the TV shook– I almost thought for a second it was an earthquake, or a car crashed into my house or a tree fell on my house,” said one neighbor who asked not to be identified. “We go outside, and everyone else is coming out of their houses, too, and they think the same thing we did – everyone thought a tree fell on their house.”
Said another neighbor, James Lyda Jr.: “I am working literally across the golf course from the explosion. (It) sounded like a bomb, shook the whole neighborhood. … I honestly thought someone had fired a cannon for the Fourth – a really big cannon. But I lost my footing from the shockwave.”
Survivor of Jeffersonville home explosion leaves hospital
From Wave 3 News, Louisville: In the early-morning hours of May 19, a blast powerful enough to awake residents up to 10 miles away destroyed William Philips’ home in the Capitol Hills neighborhood of Jeffersonville, Indiana. Philips died, and his wife, Janet, was one of two people hospitalized.
Janet Philips recently left the hospital after being put in a medically induced coma. Officials say her rehabilitation could take months.
Jeffersonville home explosion: pictures gathered
In the aftermath of the blast, neighbor Kenny Payton said the Philips’ marriage certificate was found three blocks away from their home.
“I still have more pictures I have to return to them,” Payton said. “The reason I did it was because of all this rain we’ve had. I knew they wouldn’t have gotten any pictures at all, so I got stacks of them. At least she’ll have something of him and her. I’m still finding pictures.”
Jeffersonville is a city of about 45,000 people just across the Ohio River from Louisville.
Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed in home fires and explosions. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out this form and submitting it: