Two people remain in intensive care after a home in Vernon exploded before collapsing on Thursday afternoon, but all the victims are expected to survive, according to police.
Police were dispatched to the home on East Street around 4:15 p.m. and arrived to a "devastating" scene, Lt. William Meier, of the Vernon Police Department, said. The front door was blown across the street and people were screaming for help.
Three occupants -- one 60-year-old man and two 12-year-olds -- were already outside the house, which had collapsed.
Two crews worked from two sides of the house and rescued four others -- a 7-year-old boy, a 15-year-old boy, a 23-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman –from inside of the home, according to police.
Two dogs were killed in the explosion, police said during a news conference on Friday. They were not sure about cats in the home.
Police have not identified the people injured, but said most were residents of the single-family home and one was a guest.
"This was a heroic rescue by the Vernon fire department. One of the officers led a group of Vernon firefighters inside the compromised structure and that team was who rescued those four folks that were inside," Meier said.
Officials said during a news conference on Friday afternoon that this was a cooperative effort that many people assisted in.
The children were transported to Connecticut Children's Medical Center and doctors compared their injuries to something seen in a bombing or war zone.
On Thursday night, officials from Connecticut Children's Medical Center said that one patient was released while the other three were admitted to the pediatric trauma center to be treated for significant injuries, but said they are not immediately life-threatening.
One 12-year-old has been discharged from the hospital, while the other 12-year-old remains in the hospital in fair condition. The 15-year-old and the 7-year-old are in good condition, officials said.
Doctors Thursday compared the children's injuries to those seen in bombings like the Boston Marathon bombings or a war zone like Afghanistan, but said the children are resilient.
“We're always optimistic. We provide the highest level of care to these kids and we hope they're all going to have good outcomes,” Dr. Brendan Campbell, the pediatric trauma medical director, said.
Police said the man who was outside the house when first responders got there refused treatment at the scene and the adults, the 23-year-old man and 35-year-old woman, were transported to Hartford Hospital.
One adult who was taken to Hartford Hospital is in the ICU, but will survive, officials said during a news conference on Friday.
Neighbors recalled the frightening scene, including seeing the young boy in a stretcher being taken to the hospital.
"We could see a ton of smoke over the front of the house, so I grabbed the kids," Michael Liebe, a neighbor, said. "I couldn't leave the kids by themselves."
He saw three children running out of the house.
"I heard one of them say their mother was still inside," he said.
The investigation into the explosion is underway, but Gov. Dannel Malloy said it appears the house used propane. Police said on Friday that they have not confirmed whether there was gas service to the house, but there were propane tanks at the back of the house.
"I don't know what role, if any, that those tanks played in this. It's just too early to tell," Meier said.
"The whole house rocked down to the foundation, blew out all the windows in the front, blew glass over here," Liebe said.
Relatives of the residents inside said they rushed to the scene as soon as they heard.
"Shocked. Just shocked," Jennifer Morgan, a relative, said. "You want to get (to the scene) and you don't want it to be what you hear. You don’t want any of that to be true."
The Connecticut Urban Search and Rescue, a specialized rescue team, was called in to assist. Eversource and the gas company were also at the scene.
The state fire marshal is investigating the explosion, but police said this is a very challenging scene.
"I cannot even promise that at the end that we're going to have a cause," Meier said.
On Thursday night, Malloy said the victims are, "in our thoughts and prayers and we hope for a full recovery."
Vernon Public School Administrators will collect donations-- which include clothing, cash and gift cards-- for the affected victims. These donations can be dropped off during business hours in the Main office of the schools. Several of the victims were students at the Vernon Public Schools.