Readers share views of explosion
Tracy police and firefighters are still investigating the cause of the blast, which happened shortly after 3 p.m. at 1334 Crossroads Drive.
Tracy Police Department was called at 3:13 p.m., and officers evacuated several homes and blocked off the neighborhood around Crossroads Drive, Spencer Court and Gaines Court.
Heavily armed officers, backed up by the police department’s Bearcat armored vehicle, investigated reports of gunshots fired and a rumor that someone armed with an assault rifle was in the area.
Sgt. Tony Sheneman of Tracy Police Department said those reports turned out to be unfounded.
“We’re not aware of any gunshots,” Sheneman said, adding that no weapons or ammunition were found at the scene.
According to police, the injured man was the only person in the house. Sheneman said officers had visited the house earlier Friday morning for an unrelated call, but details of that incident were unavailable.
John Gaisague, who lives two blocks to the east on Manley Drive, said he was fixing a playground set in the backyard of his neighbor Samuel Martinez’s house at the time of the explosion.
“We heard a big ol’ bang,” Gaisague said. “We went in the car and got around to the area and saw the garage door blew open, launched over to the other side of the street. The guy was on the ground crying for help.”
Neighbors closer to the blast reported a chaotic scene, with a man on fire in his front yard, screaming for help, as flames and black smoke poured out of the garage.
“When I came outside, I saw people running down trying to help the guy and making sure everyone was OK,” said Brian Schilling, who lives a few houses to the north on Gaines Court at the intersection with Crossroads Drive.
Anthony Bercasio, who lives next door to the north, said he heard and felt the explosion from his upstairs bedroom. He ran outside and saw his neighbor in front of the house.
“When I saw him, his back was on fire. He grabbed the hose and sprayed it on his back,” Bercasio said. “He kept trying to go in the garage. I don’t know why he was trying to go in. The whole garage was on fire.”
Alexis McCarthy, who lives three houses to the west on Spencer Court, heard the explosions and saw the man on fire. She also saw the man try to go back into the house.
“The house was actually exploding,” she said. “That’s when someone jumped out of their car and dragged him onto the grass.”
The man, who has not been identified, had burns to his hands and arms. An air ambulance helicopter landed at nearby Busch Park and flew him to an area hospital.
Tracy Fire Department Division Chief Steve Hanlon said the fire did not damage any neighboring homes.
Sheneman said the Tracy Fire Department arson investigator and the Tracy Police Department general investigation unit will look into the explosion together.
• Glenn Moore contributed to this report. Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.