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3 Kids Trigger 'Mushroom Cloud' Explosion

Wednesday's fire destroyed a California home, threatened 12 more
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2021 7:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – Three kids are being blamed for a two-alarm fire that triggered a "mushroom cloud" explosion in Northern California on Wednesday. The fire destroyed a Martinez home, displacing three people, and threatened a dozen houses, though no one was injured, per NBC News. Contra Costa County Fire Protection says three "youth" were playing with fire "that got out of hand in current conditions." They had reportedly dug a hole in a backyard with tall grass and built a fire within. A woman who called 911 said the fire had spread up a hill around 1:30pm despite the kids' attempts to put it out. "There was no way to stop it," the woman told KTVU.

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Battalion Chief Vito Impastato said smoke came in contact with high-power lines and triggered a massive explosion caught on video. A witness said propane tanks also exploded. "When it blew and made a mushroom cloud, it blew everything at once," Edward Raya told KTVU. Raya said the home of his neighbor, an auto mechanic and car collector, had burned along with several vehicles. A shed and fences were also destroyed, while 8,000 customers were left without power. KTVU describes an "aggressive firefighting response." "We definitely dodged a bullet," Steve Hill of Contra Costa Fire tells the outlet. The three youth were questioned, then released to their parents. (Read more explosion stories.)

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