Explosion severely injures Eugene woman

Callers reported hearing a loud explosion and then seeing flames at the back of the involved unit at Churchill Village Apartments.

Posted: Dec 16, 2018 1:21 PM
Updated: Jan 21, 2019 12:58 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Eugene Police officers responded along with Eugene Springfield Fire to an explosion at a residence in the 3600 block of W. 18th Avenue on Saturday night. 

Callers reported hearing a loud explosion and then seeing flames at the back of the involved unit at Churchill Village Apartments.

Police said the first officer to arrive entered the apartment and found a severely injured 25-year-old woman on the back patio. They told KEZI 9 News there was a small active fire with propane bottles near the flames.

KEZI spoke with neighbor Jeff Mitchell, who said he was home at the time of the explosion. He said he heard the explosion and ran out to his back patio where he got a clear view of flames.

"I could see the flames for I swear, 25 feet high. It was very scary," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said he saw the flames catch onto the woman.

"She was screaming, 'I'm on fire. I'm on fire. I can't breathe,'" he said. "Very scary. It just makes my heart race right now."

Mitchell said he called 911 once he saw the woman on fire and screaming for help.

"She was still able to communicate with us after she had been put out with a blanket...it's hard to say that," he said. "She was still talking and explain her discomfort."

He said one of the first things he noticed when he stepped outside was the smell.

"I wasn't sure if I was smelling burnt hair and skin," Mitchell said. "It had a chemically smell to it. After a little bit, I thought it was lighter fluid, but I really wasn't sure."

Police said they helped the woman and her 26-year-old fiancé get outside, and the officer began emergency first aid.

Three more officers arrived and learned there were three small children still inside. Police said they all entered the apartment which was filling with smoke, located the children and carried them outside.

Police said the man who had been taken outside tried to re-enter the apartment, and three additional officers had to restrain and physically remove him, detaining him for his safety.

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