Danville Residents Explain Chaos After Major Explosion At Royal Terrace Apartments

Danville, VA-- A major explosion at an apartment building in Danville sent six people to the hospital early Saturday morning and displaced 15 residents.

The Danville Fire Department responded to a natural gas explosion just after 1 a.m. at Royal Terrace Apartments on Arnett Boulevard.

According to Danville Police, what caused the explosion was a vehicle that struck the back of the building. The Danville Fire department said the crash severed gas lines at the meters, creating a leak that filled the building with a high concentration of gas.

As residents of Royal Terrace Apartments returned home, they said they just cannot believe their eyes.

"This is a horrible situation," said Matthew Britton, a resident of Royal Terrace Apartments.

"I didn't realize it was this much. Last night I didn't have no idea that this much had been done. I just couldn't believe it." said Louise Inge, also a resident at the building.

Just after 1 a.m., when most were asleep, they were awoken by firefighters and frantic neighbors urging everyone to get out of their apartments immediately.

"Somebody was ringing the door bell, so when I got to the door the lady was saying there's a gas leak," Inge said.

"I grabbed some shorts and grabbed my keys, we both ran off barefoot. By the time we got across the street, there was a big explosion," Britton explained.

According the manager of the building, Marie Richardson, some made it across the street before the explosion, but others didn't. She said some were blown out of door ways. One person even jumped from the building.

"Everybody was hollering and screaming. One lady I know that lives right next door to me. She was hurt. She was all on my car, got blood on my car," said Inge.

Police said 36-year-old James Barksdale of Danville was driving on Guilford Street when he ran right into the building, causing the gas leak that led to the blast. He's been arrested for driving while intoxicated and driving with a revoked license. Barksdale is being held in the Danville City jail without bond.

"It was scary. But I thank God everyone is alive," Inge said.

According to the manager, all those taken to the hospital were treated for minor injuries and have all been released.

The explosion caused $500,000 in damage. Most residents may not be able to get back in their home until early next week.

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