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Witnesses say explosion preceded blaze in Roxbury

By Matt Byrne and John M. Guilfoil
Globe Correspondent | Globe Staff / October 17, 2011

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A explosion heavily damaged a three-story brick apartment building on Wardman Road in Roxbury this morning and set the structure ablaze.

A man reported to a Boston hospital with third-degree burns and told medical personnel that he “blew up his house,’’ Boston police Superintendent-in-chief Daniel Linskey told the Globe.

Boston firefighters and emergency medical personnel were on the scene of the six-alarm fire. Six people, including a firefighter, were transported to hospitals with injuries.

Area residents said they heard the sound of an explosion shortly before 1 a.m. Herbert Lamb lives on the third floor of the fire scene at 3-9 Wardman Road. He said he was wakened by the sound of a loud explosion and that he rushed his daughter and 6-year-old grandson toward the windows of their apartment, but as he did, he tripped and fell.

“My wife and daughter came out one window and the boy came out another window,’’ Lamb said, who clambered down a fire department ladder. “I don’t know how they got out.’’

Pamela Isaacson, 37, of 81 Westminster Ave., the building next to the site of the fire, said she was wakened by the sound of an explosion. When she ran outside, she saw a massive hole in the corner of the apartment building across the street.

People running from the damaged building shouted to Isaacson and others that the building was the site of a gas explosion.

“They were saying it’s a gas leak and to get out,’’ she said. She and her husband, Robert, 40, watched in shock as dozens of firefighters approached the building from multiple angles.