At least 1 dead, 15 injured — including 3 firefighters — in California house explosion

Jordan Culver
A California gas company reports one of its employees died in an explosion Monday afternoon in Murietta, California.

One person was killed and 15 injured — including three firefighters — after a house exploded in Southern California on Monday, sending a wall of flames and heavy smoke into the air.

The Southern California Gas Company posted on Twitter that crews responded to reports of a damaged natural gas line in Murrieta, a city of about 113,000 people in Riverside County, about 65 miles north of San Diego. The explosion happened around noon Monday, shortly after crews arrived, the company said.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of today’s incident which took the life of one of our employees, injured firefighters, and impacted others," SoCalGas said in a statement to USA TODAY. "Our employee was responding to reports of a damaged gas line at the home. Our focus now is on working with first responders to make the area safe, and supporting all those involved."

Murrieta Deputy Fire Chief David Lantzer told reporters that firefighters had been called to the home about an hour before the blast. He added 15 people, including three firefighters, were injured, but he didn’t have their conditions.

Lantzer said there are "no persons who are unaccounted for" following the explosion. He said he wasn't sure if the owner of the home was inside the house at the time of the explosion. 

A SoCalGas employee was also sent to the hospital. The company said family of the employee who died in the explosion has been notified. 

"Based on first reports from the scene, the gas line had been damaged by a contractor working at the home," SoCalGas said in a statement.

The company added, "Our preliminary information indicates that the contractor did not call 811 to have gas lines marked prior to digging on the property as required by law." 

Videos shared by local news outlets showed a home that appears to have been devastated by the explosion. Other videos on Twitter showed smoke from the scene rising into the sky. 

The Murrieta Police Department declined to comment to USA TODAY. The department posted on Twitter that a medi-vac helicopter was being called in and said the area where the explosion happened was closed for public safety. 

"No one will be allowed into the area - including residents," the police department tweeted. 

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California house explosion: At least 1 dead, 15 injured in Murrieta