‘Let’s just get her out as fast as we can’: neighbors pull woman from explosion wreckage

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JANESVILLE, Wis. — Jermar Ayers was at home Monday night when he heard a series of blasts just down the street.

“I was kind of freaked out, to tell you the truth,” Ayers told News 3 Now.

Janesville police say that sound was a house explosion, around 9:15 p.m. along Hawthorne Avenue, in Ayers’ neighborhood. Two people were taken to the hospital, one in critical condition, and a dog inside the home is also receiving treatment for severe burns.

Ayers and his neighbors were on the scene before first responders got there.

“I was hoping and praying nobody was in the house,” he said.

Ayers was watching the house go up in flames when he says they saw a woman waving for help from underneath a mattress in the wreckage.

“I just knew she needed help,” Ayers said. “[We were] just trying to help this lady; let’s just get her out as fast as we can.”

Neighbors Rob Stenson and Mike Hodges were there to help, too.

“You could smell gas when you ran up to the house,” Stenson said. “We thought a door slammed… so we ran toward where people were yelling for help. You could see glass and debris all over the yard.”

The men say they tried to reach the garage through the back of the house, but flames had already started to engulf most of the structure.

Officials with the Janesville Police Department say the explosion was caused by a lit cigarette and a natural gas leak.

This is a developing story. Stay with News 3 Now and channel3000.com for updates as we learn them.