One man was hospitalized at Parkland Hospital's burn unit in Dallas and two others were treated for minor injuries following a house explosion just before noon Wednesday in the 1400 block of E SE Loop 323.
"I was home for lunch, heard this big explosion," Lisa Lunsford said. "I thought it might have been a car accident so I go out the back door looking over the fence there and I saw a lot of smoke."
In those first few minutes, the idea that a neighbor's house had exploded never entered Lunsford's mind. She walked a few hundred feet from her home to the one that exploded, hoping to help. Just a few minutes before noon it was the intense smoke and heat that finally made her realize what happened.
"There was a guy that had come out of the house that was on fire," she said. "It was obvious that it was an explosion in the house. It rattled my windows so it was that powerful."
That man was a construction worker helping to re-model the house. He was working by himself to re-finish the floors.
"We have found lacquer thinner, a fairly large amount, inside there and floor machines," Tyler Fire Marshal Paul Findley said. "It looks like they were doing some kind of work on floors, the concrete in there."
Findley said the paint thinner probably fueled the fire, but figuring out what sparked it was tough because investigators had to wait to make sure the damaged walls didn't collapse.
"The walls and especially the bricks are pushed outward," Findley said. "So there was significant force inside that structure."
"Thank God no one else was in there," Lunsford said. "I just hope and pray that he's going to be okay. He was a little coherent. He could speak."
The man who was burned inside the home was listed in critical condition Wednesday night at Parkland Hospital.
One of the other victims was Corey Hoover, an investigator for the Smith County District Attorney's office. He drove by immediately after the accident, stopped to help, and inhaled too much smoke as he attempted to search the home for additional victims. He and one other good Samaritan are expected to be fine.