Family of 6 displaced after explosion, fire

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A family of six is without a place to call home after an explosion and large fire.

It happened around 6 p.m. Wednesday in the 7600 block of Praver Drive on the city's southside.

Firefighters said a 17-year-old was at home at the time with two younger children. They managed to escape safely, but the rest of the home is considered a total loss.

Most of the damage can be found in the backyard and on the back of the house.

Firefighters have not identified a cause, but said they're working to determine exactly what happened. They said they don't know if a smaller fire led to a propane tank explosion and larger fire, or if the explosion was the sole source.

Mark Sapp, one of the residents, could barely hold back his tears on scene when watching flames destroy his family's home.

"I don't even know where to begin. I don't even know what's left, what's salvageable," he said.

The force of the explosion was apparently so strong neighbors from two doors down reported flying debris falling into the yards.

Christian Smith with the American Red Cross of Northeast Florida said the organization is assisting the displaced residents.

"We look at the family and we ask, 'Okay, what are your emergency needs?'" she said.

Smith said nearly 400 Jacksonville families went through the same horrible experience last year. With each case, she said, the mission remains the same.

"Our role is to work with them to address their emergency needs. When the community comes forward, we ask them to support the American Red Cross because that's what we do every single day," she explained.

Many First Coast News viewers wrote e-mails and Facebook messages asking how they could help.

Smith said no private bank account has been established. She said the easiest thing to do is support Red Cross disaster relief.

"When you support the American Red Cross, you support every time a family has a house fire," she said.

The local chapter can be reached at (904) 358-8091. You can also donate online, but Smith said make sure you select the Northeast Florida chapter.


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