In the hourslong run-up to a massive home explosion caught on amateur video Monday night, a suburban Washington, D.C., man discharged a flare gun into his neighborhood dozens of times, police said.
By the time the blast occurred during a standoff around 8:30 p.m., reportedly scattering debris throughout the area, police had been on the scene for hours, having received reports of shots fired around 4:45 p.m. Arlington County, Virginia, police had obtained a search warrant and were attempting to talk to the resident using a loudspeaker and phone.
When authorities tried to enter the home, the man reportedly fired several shots their way.
Then the duplex suddenly exploded in fire, spewing smoke and leaving rubble. It is unclear if the suspect died in the blast or if others were present inside the duplex, said Ashley Savage, a spokesperson for the Arlington County Police Department.
Three officers left the scene with minor injuries, but no one was hospitalized.
The duplex was in the Bluemont neighborhood in a northern Virginia suburb across the Potomac River from Washington.
More than 3 kilometers (nearly 2 miles) away, Carla Rodriguez said she heard the explosion and came to the scene, but law enforcement kept spectators blocks away.
“I actually thought a plane exploded,” Rodriguez said.
Bob Maynes, who lives in the area, said he thought the loud boom was the crash of a tree falling on his house.
“I was sitting in my living room watching television, and the whole house shook,” Maynes said. “It wasn’t an earthquake kind of tremor, but the whole house shook.”
Local firefighters were able to control the fire around 10:30 p.m. but continued to manage smaller spot fires into the night, police said early Tuesday.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said its investigators were at the scene assisting local police.
Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press.