PINE PLAINS — “It looked like a bomb went off.”
That’s how Richard Wager described the scene on Hoffman Road on Wednesday night, when an explosion leveled a house and killed a volunteer firefighter who lived in the home.
Wager, who lives down the street from where the explosion took place, and a firefighter saved a woman from the wreckage as flames spread throughout the rubble.
It’s not yet clear what caused the explosion, which killed Lawrence “Larry” Pariseau, 61, and injured the 62-year-old woman who was pulled from the debris. Both of them were in the house when it exploded, state police said.
Pariseau, who owned the two-story home that was built in 1840, had been a volunteer firefighter in town for the last two years, said Brian Walsh, the fire chief of the Pine Plains Fire Company.
“Upon arrival the house was fully engulfed in flames and was completely apart,” Walsh said. “The roof was laying on top of it.”
Firefighters from Dutchess and Columbia counties responded, including from Amenia, Ancram, Copake, Milan, Millerton, Rhinebeck and Stanfordville, with Millbrook and Tivoli on standby, Walsh said.
The woman who was injured was taken to MidHudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie with injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.
Police are investigating the blast, which was reported at 7:34 p.m. It was felt and heard for miles throughout town.
“It was a serious boom,” said Ted Howley, who lives a couple of miles away from Pariseau’s home and felt and heard the explosion. “It was something.”
Howley did not know Pariseau, but he saw Pariseau speak at this year’s 9/11 ceremony in the town of Stanford on Sept. 11. Pariseau had spoken about his work as a nurse and responding to Ground Zero to help, Howley said.
Explosion rocked Hoffman Road
Robert Nuccio, whose home is next to Pariseau’s, said “it was like an artillery show going off” on Wednesday night.
“It knocked pictures off the walls. The percussion of it was pretty intense,” he said. “The whole house shook.”
Wager, who works as an oil service repairman, was wrapping up work in the shop in his basement when the explosion occurred.
“I didn’t put my phone down for five seconds and I heard a gigantic ‘kaboom,'” he said. “And I was like, ‘What the hell was that?'”
It was an impact that felt like a tree was falling or something big had been dropped in the area, Wager said.
“I looked down the road and I could see like a fog and you could see what looked like a door or a doorframe sitting in the middle of the road,” he said, adding that bricks were strewn about the street and pieces of windows were stuck in trees.
Wager said he grabbed tools from his truck and went to the scene in case he could help.
“So I ran down to the house and as I got there, there was a woman screaming in the middle of the road,” he said.
The woman was yelling about her mother being inside the home, which Wager said was destroyed.
Firefighters arrived, Wager said, and they looked around the property as the smell of gas permeated.
One of the firefighters ran toward the debris and started digging for the woman, Wager said, and the two of them helped pull her out of the wreckage.
The fire quickly intensified as she was carried away from the rubble, he said.
“There was this fog. You couldn’t see too much. It was all particles from the house,” he said. “There was a little fire. It was like a campfire. It started taking off. I cannot believe how fast that thing caught fire.”