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Protection order filed by owner of home that exploded in south Omaha, leaving 2 dead, 2 hurt

Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 9:12 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2020 at 5:47 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The owner of the home that exploded in south Omaha on Tuesday morning, killing two people and critically injuring two others, had filed a protection order the day before against her grandson.

Noting she was concerned for the safety of herself and “afraid he will start my house on fire,” Theresa Toledo filed a domestic abuse protection order Monday in Douglas County district court against her 27-year-old grandson, Alexander Toledo, petitioning for his removal from the property.

In the report, Theresa Toledo says her grandson was on meth and mushrooms, that he talks to himself, and hears his late stepfather in his head.

“I need Alex out of my house now before he destroys my house or harms me,” she wrote in the filing. “The drugs make him crazy.”

She also said that while accompanying her on a visit to North Platte to see her elderly mother in June, he had used her car to steal an iPad from a Walmart location there.

The Omaha Fire Department confirmed Tuesday afternoon that two people were killed when a house exploded hours earlier near 51st and L streets.

OFD Battalion Chief Scott Fitzpatrick confirmed in an update at the scene that one person was killed and two others were critically injured in the explosion that leveled the house at 4810 S. 51st St. around 8:15 a.m. Tuesday. A second alarm was called at 8:23 a.m. to help fight the fire and help evacuate the neighborhood.

A news release from OFD on Tuesday afternoon confirmed a second death in the explosion. Two people were also transported to University of Nebraska Medical Center in critical condition, the release states.

Jeff Mell and his neighbor continued to look through the debris listening for other people who were caught in the blast.

“I made my way to the back of the screams and found a guy very badly burned,” he said. “We couldn’t really touch him, so we took blankets that a van brought down and wrapped him up the best we could the proceeded to get him across the street, and tried to comfort him as much as we could.”

It was a tough scene to process.

“I’m still thinking about it, still trying to comprehend everything. I feel sorry for those people, I really do. It’s bad.”

“The house that we were called to for the explosion is a complete loss and was leveled in the explosion,” the OFD release states.

Two homes next to the exploded house were also severely damaged in the explosion, he said. A dog was also pulled away from the scene and given oxygen, he said. OFD said in an update Tuesday afternoon that another dog was found dead at the scene of the explosion.

MUD shut off gas service around the area and OFD evacuated the entire block on both sides, Fitzpatrick said.

The area along 51st Street from L to Homes streets has been closed off since the explosion, and authorities asked people to stay clear of the area.

Per standard protocols, Omaha Police are assisting fire investigators to determine the cause of the explosion, Fitzpatrick said.

“This will be a lengthy investigation,” the release states.

Others in the area told 6 News they could feel shaking from the explosion from five blocks away.

Jeff Mell and his neighbor continued to look through the debris listening for other people who were caught in the blast.

“I made my way to the back of the screams and found a guy very badly burned,” he said. “We couldn’t really touch him, so we took blankets that a van brought down and wrapped him up the best we could the proceeded to get him across the street, and tried to comfort him as much as we could.”

It was a tough scene to process.

“I’m still thinking about it, still trying to comprehend everything. I feel sorry for those people, I really do. It’s bad.”

Debris from the blast traveled across the street. Marianne Distefano could see the aftermath from her front porch.

“I was in the other room in my house, and I heard a loud explosion — I thought it was my basement or something in my house,” she said. “When I came outside, all I saw was the house burning, completely burning.”

She said the blast was so loud and intense, it shook the walls inside her home.

“It was horribly loud. It sounded like someone bombed the house — sounded like someone dropped a bomb, it was that loud,” Distefano said. “It knocked things off my garage; rakes and things fell off.”

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