Firefighters rush to save victims after house explosion on Carbon Street

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse firefighters from Station 2 were just a few blocks away on a Butternut Street call Tuesday afternoon when the house at 205 Carbon Street exploded and collapsed. Firefighter Chris Janus said he saw about 20 people in the long driveway leading up to the collapsed house.

“It was tough to differentiate between the wounded, walking wounded bystanders. We had patients laying on the ground on both sides of the driveway,” said Janus.

The firefighters also describe intense concern about numerous victims still trapped in the home. “Credible witnesses claiming people were still trapped in the structure, trapped in the vehicle. We had hazards presenting secondary wires near one of the victims, bystanders.”

“We had strong odor of natural gas. We had light smoke showing from the rear of the structure, we could not physically see at that point,” Janus explained.

Captain Greg Petersen admitted his first look at the collapsed house exceeded what he envisioned based on the initial dispatch calls. He found chaos on Carbon Street.

“We just walked up, just see the number of victims that were laying in the roadway or the driveway,” said Petersen. “They were being tended to, some by the fire department, and you had just bystanders who were helping out, caring for the victims, but to see the house the way it was, it’s just not normal.”

The most immediate concern for Firefighter Zach Beebe was a 10-year-old boy trapped in a car next to the collapsed house. Beebe reached the boy and offered reassurance while the Rescue Company arrived to begin a methodical search for the structure.

“His leg was pinned between the rocket panel and the car door. The car door itself was open about six inches or so, and his leg was caught in there,” said Beebe. “All I did was remove some debris from the top of the car just to gain better access to him, talk to him, try and calm him down while we waited for the rescue to come and determine how to get him out and make sure the structure itself was deemed safe for us to go inside.”

Firefighter Alex Watkins is part of the Rescue Company of the Syracuse Fire Department. He and Firefighter Dave Corbett ultimately both entered the collapsed house after added support shored up the building.

‘There were some tight corners. You know, you squeeze in a little bit here and there, and keep your head low so you’re not banging on things. Try to move things as little as possible to make sure we don’t move stuff around,” Watkins said.

“It was a house that had fallen down on itself and we’re trying to peer between floors and joists and everything else to make sure nobody else is inside.”

The exhaustive effort ended for the Rescue Company as an account was made by Syracuse Police of all of the possible occupants. Thirteen people were involved. That included seven members of the family that lived in the home and the six guests who were visiting after recently arriving in the United States as refugees from Myanmar.