Home Explodes Near Brandon, Mississippi School After Apparent Gas Line Rupture

BRANDON, Miss. (AP) -- An explosion, apparently triggered when a car stuck a natural gas line, ripped through a home in downtown Brandon near a school complex on Tuesday.

There were no reports of fatalities or serious injuries, including the driver of the car, said Mayor Roe Grubbs.

M.J. Mangum, 72, of Brandon, passed out behind the wheel of his Ford Crown Victoria at 12:18 p.m. Tuesday. He drove into the dining room of a home near Brandon Elementary School.

The car sheared the home's gas meter, which pumped so much gas into the home the fumes were visible. Emergency workers evacuated a two-block radius around the home at the corner of Overby and West Jasper streets.

At 1:22 p.m., something inside the house sparked the explosion. Fire investigators have not determined what it was.

``The walls on the house swelled up, then the roof blew straight up in the air to the top of the trees,'' said Brandon Fire and Police Chief Byron McDaniel. ``It kind of stalled for a second, then dropped down. The house was just blown apart.''

Mangum was taken to Rankin Medical Center after quickly being pulled from his vehicle long before the explosion. He did not suffer serious injuries, officials said.

No one was at the home when the accident occurred. Officials don't know why Mangum passed out.

The home was owned by Clint and Kristen Pennington. Clint Pennington, 23, is the son of Rankin County Sheriff Ronnie Pennington.

``We'd only lived there about six months, but it was our home,'' Clint Pennington said. ``You never think anything like this can happen.''

Television news shots from a WLBT-TV helicopter showed debris from the home scattered over a block area. A car could be seen lodged in the debris.

The ruptured line appeared to continue to burn well after the blast and firefighters were pouring water into the debris.

Students at Brandon Elementary School were moved to buildings away from the blast scene. The explosion occurred across a street from the school's playground.

Bridget Hallett, a spokeswoman for the Rankin County School District, said officials ``evacuated the building just to be on the safe side but the students were not in danger.''