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A home near Washington, DC, exploded as police responded to reports of more than 30 flare-gun shots fired

Courtesy Alex Wilson

Originally Published: 04 DEC 23 22:43 ET Updated: 05 DEC 23 10:32 ET By Rob Frehse and Elizabeth Wolfe, CNN

(CNN) — A home exploded in Arlington, Virginia, Monday night as police were trying to execute a search warrant, sending the building up in flames with a suspect still inside and prompting the evacuation of several nearby houses, officials said.

Police are investigating the circumstances of the explosion, which tore through the home as law enforcement were trying to make contact with the suspect inside. Authorities believe the man had been firing a flare gun from his home earlier in the day, Arlington County Police Department spokesperson Ashley Savage said.

Officers had responded to reports of shots fired near the home in the 800 block of N. Burlington Street shortly before 5 p.m., according to a police statement released early Tuesday.

Police then learned the suspect had discharged the flare gun about 30 to 40 times from his home into the surrounding neighborhood, the police statement said.

“During the course of the investigation, officers obtained a search warrant for the suspect’s residence and attempted to make contact with the suspect over the telephone and through loudspeakers. The suspect did not respond and remained barricaded inside the residence,” the statement said.

As officers tried to execute the warrant, the suspect fired several rounds, from what is believed to have been a firearm, inside the home. Sometime afterward, around 8:25 p.m., the home exploded, police said.

Video taken by a witness shows law enforcement vehicles surrounding a multi-story home when a fiery blast suddenly erupts, sending a plume of flames, embers and smoke into the air as debris rains down into the street. The force of the explosion blew the roof and several walls apart, causing the structure to collapse.

The suspect was inside the home when it exploded, and investigators are not aware of anyone else inside, according to Savage. It is unclear whether the suspect is still alive.

Three officers received minor injuries but nobody was hospitalized, police said.

By about 10:30 p.m., the Arlington Fire Department had gotten the blaze under control but were still battling small spot fires, police said.

The fire department was waiting for a utility company to arrive and secure the utility before firefighters continued further into the structure, Capt. Nate Hiner with the Arlington Fire Department said.

Several homes were evacuated after the blast, Hiner said Monday night, though he did not provide an approximate number.

“As soon as the fire is brought under control and there is not threat or risk of that fire spreading to those structures, neighbors will be brought back in as the situation determines,” Hiner said.

The FBI’s Washington, DC, field office is assisting local police in responding to the explosion, the agency said. The site of the home explosion is about 5 miles from the Pentagon and other landmarks in the nation’s capital.

Virginia’s Democratic Rep. Don Beyer said he was monitoring the emergency response to a “major explosion” in the city’s Bluemont neighborhood Monday night.

“This is very, very scary, and my profound thanks go out to first responders working to secure the area and keep everyone safe,” Beyer posted on X.

A man who lives about five blocks away from the explosion told CNN affiliate WJLA that he was inside his home when the blast occurred.

“You could feel the sound concussion … It was impressive,” Bob Maynes told WJLA. “I’ve been here for 50 years, and I’ve never experienced anything like that.”

“My first thought was, ‘I want to check on the integrity of the house,’”Maynes said. “Once I figured out there was nothing wrong with my house, then my thought was, ‘Well, if there was some big explosion, do I really want to go out there?’ But there was lots of people going out there.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

CNN’s Melissa Alonso,Hannah Rabinowitz, Amanda Jackson, Evan Perez and Sara Smart contributed to this report.

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