911 audio of Franklin propane explosion captures panic

FRANKLIN, Va. — We are learning more about a home explosion in Franklin that left two seriously injured and more than 70 homes in the Berkley Court community without hot water for a week. We received the 911 calls from that terrifying night.

It’s something you’ll only hear on News 3.

“We just heard something loud…we don’t know what it was.”

The very first call to 911 after the explosion was filled with uncertainty.

“I don’t know what it is, but something hit our house. We are afraid to look.”

And the many who followed were filled with panic.

“[I] saw something explode.

“Oh my God!”

Some even thought they were being attacked.

“Someone threw a bomb at my window.”

“Someone threw a bomb at your window?”

“Yes yes.”

The 911 operator quickly called for reinforcements, including Courtland emergency units and the sheriff’s office.

“I was just calling to see if you had any deputies who could also go to 672 Cameron Street for the explosion.”

Locals say the panic was quickly replaced by frustration.

It’s been a full week since the duplex on the corner of Campbell Avenue and Cameron Street blew up – that’s to say a whole week without hot water.

Let’s say you want to take a shower. You would have to leave your house and walk here to the portable shower units that have been installed on the property.

According to Franklin City Manager Amanda Jarratt, the company that manages the property, Maryland-based Severn Companies, has yet to inspect the gas lines.

This means that these mobile showers, which lock at night and do not open until 6.30am, allow residents of Berkley Court to take a hot shower.

If residents don’t want to use the mobile units – which also don’t appear to be wheelchair accessible – they can travel about five minutes up the road to Love’s Travel Stop, where Severn has arranged for them to pick up a shower.

On Friday, Severn released its first statement regarding the incident. The company says it is working with a construction management and consultancy expert to carry out an exterior review of all buildings and will follow up with interior inspections as needed.

The two families who were displaced received hotel rooms and food vouchers.

Severn said they were working with the city and other officials to determine what caused the explosion. They also arrange to have the gas lines inspected. Until then, the lines will remain closed for safety reasons.

You can read the company’s full statement below:

We understand the impact the recent incident has had on the Berkley Court Apartment community. At this time, we are working as quickly as possible to put in place several solutions to not only provide access to hot showers, but to ensure the safety of the entire property.

The following items have been implemented since Friday morning:

  • As an immediate and temporary solution to the lack of hot water for the showers, an on-site shower trailer has been provided and is already operational. This will allow all residents of the Berkley Court Apartments community to have access to private shower stalls. A safety protocol for cleaning the showers between uses has also been put in place. (Out of respect and privacy for our community, we ask the media to refrain from filming the showers or the trailer.)
  • As a secondary option, we have arranged for safe, private, and hot showers at Love’s located in Franklin at no charge. Residents were given details on how to access these showers.

For the two families displaced from their homes due to damage caused by the incident, they received rooms in local hotels, as well as food vouchers.

Except for a few limited cases, which are currently being managed, no structural damage has been reported in other apartments. However, in an effort to keep residents safe, we have engaged a construction management and consulting expert to perform an exterior review of all buildings today (Friday) and follow up with interior inspections as needed.

The gas lines were cut at its source to ensure safety. We are currently working closely with the City of Franklin, local and state law enforcement, fire departments and others to determine the cause of the incident. As required by the state, and for the safety and confidence of our residents, we are arranging for gas lines to be inspected to ensure their safety. Gas lines will remain disconnected from source until safety inspections are finalized. We believe it is extremely important that our residents know that their homes are safe for them and their families, and we work hard to minimize inconvenience to residence through this process.

We will continue to update residents of Berkley Court apartments with frequent communications to ensure they are aware of the steps that are being taken to restore gas and hot water.

Severn Companies, Berkley Court Management Company

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