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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- Smoldering rubble is all that remains of a Jeffersonville home engulfed by flames early Wednesday morning.
Police and fire officials say a car hit the house on Watt Street, and ruptured a gas meter. Everyone was able to get out of the home safely, but investigators are still looking for the driver of the car, who apparently left the scene. They are not certain whether the driver my have been injured.
"The house was just so engulfed in seconds," said Edward Heston, who lived in the home. "I ain't never seen nothing like that in my life."
Residents of the duplex say they had to scramble from their home just before 2:30 a.m. The third resident was not home at the time of the accident.
"I heard 'Boom!' and then a big hissing sound," said Heston. "It was just gas, raw gas shooting out. On fire." Heston says he and his wife were able to get out safely, but he went back in to successfully rescue his dogs.
"When crews arrived on scene about 50 percent of the structure was well-involved in the fire," said Jeffersonville Fire Deputy Chief Josh Thompson.
Thompson says the structure was filled with smoke fueled by a high-pressure gas leak and there was a bit of difficulty when they attempted to shut the gas off. Witnesses say flames shot into the air higher than nearby utility poles.
"Seeing it you wouldn't think that anybody would have walked out of it," said neighbor Dee Troub.
Troub said she could not believe the aftermath of a hit and run accident. "You think, hey, that could have been my house," she said.
Edward Heston's family is homeless after something that happened in what both described as "an instant." "It didn't take five minutes honey, the place was burnt down in fifteen," said Heston.
In those 15 minutes, 15 years of the Army Veteran's life went up in flames. "It's the stuff I wanted, pictures and memorabilia, things that I did back in the 50s," said Heston.
"I saw the flames, saw them come out of the house and at that point the house was in flames and engulfed in smoke," said Troub.
When asked what it was it like to see two people walking out of a burning building unscathed, Troub called it "a miracle of God."
Heston, his "wife" and their two dogs were in the living room when someone drove into the side of their home, hitting a gas meter. He says they got out as fast as they could. "No time, that quick, that quick, I didn't have my wallet or nothing," said Heston.
The retiree said his main concern was his rat terrier puppy, Snoopy. He said he had already gotten their Chihuahua-Jack Russell terrier, Taco, out to safety.
"I went back in to get her, but it was so dark cause the power had went out and I was so low, the smoke was on top of my head," said Heston.
He said Snoopy eventually made it out to safety. "She's a hero, she come out of there on her own," said Heston.
Police are still searching for the driver who fled the scene. Heston says he is not mad at who did it. "They didn't know they were going to hit it. they didn't leave home planning it," Heston said.
"I hope they get them, but I hope they don't get in trouble or nothing, it could have been some kids or something."
The retiree says he does not think he can salvage anything and did not have renter's insurance.
The Red Cross will provide shelter for him and his wife for a few days, but without much family in the area, he says he has one thing to get him through this.
"Faith, the Lord, honey, cause I got people helping me now," said Heston. "It's just a miracle, I didn't know a community could pull together like this."
The American Red Cross was assisting Heston and his family, who lost everything in the fire.