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Explosion destroys house in Florissant

Explosion destroys house in Florissant


FLORISSANT • An explosion leveled a house in the 800 block of Pershall Road Sunday afternoon.

Two people were able to escape and were taken by ambulance for treatment of burn injuries. A third appeared to be unharmed.

Windows at the house were blown out into the front yard and the explosion shot glass and debris into the road, which runs along Interstate 270. Siding on two adjacent houses melted.

According to a family member, Robert Jerome Malawey, who owns the home, was inside at the time of the explosion with his brother Nicholas J. Malawey, and Nicholas’ son, Scott Malawey.

“We got a call and they said Bob’s house exploded,” said Tammy Malawey, 50, of Troy, Mo., who is a sister-in-law of the two brothers.

She said Robert Malawey suffered the most injuries. Nicholas also had burns, while Scott was not injured, she said.

Video: It was like a sonic boom

Jason Hoevelmann, battalion chief for the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District, said responders received a report of an explosion about 2 p.m. and found the house engulfed in flames.

Hoevelmann called the explosion a “pancake explosion.”

“The top just fell straight down on top of itself,” he said.

He said the cause was unknown.

Utilities were on the scene investigating.

Several police, fire departments and districts responded. In addition to Florissant Valley, other fire departments and districts at the scene were Metro North, Berkeley and Ferguson.

One neighbor reported seeing the two men emerge from the house, including one crawling on his knees out the back door. Witnesses also said they saw the two men leave on stretchers.

“It sounded just like a bomb going off,” said a neighbor who did not want his name used. He was in bed at the time. He and his wife jumped up and ran out to see one of the men crawling out the back door of the house.

George Simms, 70, who lives two doors down the street, said he heard what he thought was thunder or a tractor-trailer crashing on the highway. He went into his backyard and saw the house destroyed.

“I don’t see how anyone walked out of that,” Simms said.

Ken and Carol Angell, 77 and 74, said the brothers have lived in the house for about 15 years. They are active in church and sing in the church choir.

“We are just happy they are alive,” Carol Angell said.

J.B. Forbes of the Post-Dispatch contributed information for this report.

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Margaret S. Gillerman is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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