Several Philadelphia-area homes were severely damaged in a fire ignited by an explosion inside a residence on Thursday, officials said.
Shortly before 1:00 p.m., a code enforcement officer responded to a residence for a follow-up inspection, Lower Providence Township Police Chief Mike Jackson said. When the code enforcement officer engaged with the homeowner, that person displayed a firearm, Jackson said.
“The code enforcement officer thankfully was able to get out of there,” Jackson said. The officer safely left the residence and contacted police, who confronted the homeowner before he went back inside, Jackson said.
Shortly after, loud explosions could be heard from inside the residence. The building caught fire and police immediately began evacuating other nearby residents, Jackson said.
One person was treated at a local hospital for a minor injury, police said.
“Though we cannot confirm the suspect’s whereabouts at this time due to the severely damaged home, we do not believe there is reason for neighbors to be concerned,” police said.
It’s unclear what caused the explosion. Jackson did not provide the reason for the inspection or say whether there were any violations. CNN has reached out to police for more details.
A couple neighboring the homeowner told CNN affiliate WPVI-TV that their home was damaged in the fire.
Imane Lotfi and Elsayed Elsayed said their children, ages 6, 9 and 14, were in remote learning when police evacuated the family.
“He saved my kids — the cops — he went to help,” Lotfi told the affiliate.
Elsayed added: “He put his life at risk. He made everybody safe in the neighborhood.”
The Red Cross was on the scene assisting the displaced residents. The shelter in place order was lifted, and some homes remain evacuated during the ongoing investigation, according to the Lower Providence Fire Department.
Lower Providence Township is about 25 miles northwest of Philadelphia.