“We could have lost four guys real quick.”

That’s what Colona Fire Chief John Swan told our Local 4 News crew Saturday after an explosion during a house fire put the lives of firefighters at risk Thursday night. The experience, Swan said, “was no picnic for a firefighter.”

A gunpowder explosion during a structure fire resulted in the loss of a home in Colona late Thursday, according to a news release from the Colona Fire Department.

A passerby reported the blaze to the Henry County Sheriff’s Office about 10:29 p.m., the release says. Fire crews arrived on the 21000 block of Ballegeer Lane within eight minutes to see a single-family two-story home with heavy smoke and flames.

Colona Fire Station (photo by Eric Olsen)

As soon as crews arrived, an offensive fire attack began immediately for a preliminary search and fire control. Then an explosion happened in the basement area, the release says.

“The explosion’s force made contact with firefighters, leaving the interior crews disoriented from the noise and impact,” the release says.

A “Mayday” distress call was dispatched. Interior crews were forced to take emergency exits out windows and doors. Within minutes all crews were accounted for on the scene. No firefighters were transported from the scene for injuries, the release says.

After the “Mayday” was cleared, crews went into a defensive action to put the fire out. “At this point, the home was deemed unsafe for offensive action due to the unknown items in the home exploding and the condition of the fire,” the release says.

Firefighters were on the scene until about 3:30 a.m. Friday, the release says.

It was determined the explosion was a result of the occupants’ stored gunpowder in the basement area. This was unknown to fire crews at the time of the blaze, according to the release.

No one was home at the time of the fire. The displaced family is being assisted by other family members.

The home is a total loss, the release says.