THORNTON — A house exploded Thursday afternoon in Thornton, flinging debris onto the roofs of nearby homes and sending a column of smoke into the sky.
The explosion, shortly after 3 p.m., could be heard for miles.
One person was unaccounted for. Shortly before 9 p.m., authorities reported the search had located a scent, but had not yet found a body.
The ruins of the house, near Cottonwood Lakes Boulevard and Monroe Drive, were being searched by Thornton fire and police investigators, seeking clues to the cause of the blast.
The fire was out within 20 minutes, but the neighborhood still smelled of smoke at 5 p.m.
The homeowners told police there was a third party living in the home and they think that person was in the house because their car and motorcycle were both there.
City spokeswoman Lisa Wilson said the scene is now in "recovery mode."
"It's a long process," Wilson said. "The scene is unstable and there are hot spots, and so the investigators have to move very slowly."
The blast shook the entire neighborhood.
"I heard it and saw it too," said Richard Sutton, who lives a block and a half away.
"I was outside talking with my neighbor and it went right up — the insulation and the roof just went up in a big mushroom.
"It shook the heck out of my house; I looked over at my neighbor and he was almost on the ground — he was mowing his lawn and he thought the mower exploded."
Toni Marie Nicastro, 20, lives a couple of blocks away.
"I was sleeping and the house started shaking," she said.
"I came downstairs and all the pictures on our walls had fallen to the floor.
"I went back into my parents' bedroom and you could see the flames just pouring from the house."