SAN JOSE (KPIX) — A neighbor risked his own life to save a woman after a massive explosion destroyed her home on Bel Air Avenue, in San Jose.

It was an explosion that nearly everyone in this neighborhood felt. Some thought it was an earthquake, others thought it was a car accident.

It turned out it was their neighbor’s home and firefighters say it’s remarkable the woman who lived there is alive.

Chad Collins is the Good Samaritan who saved the woman.

“It’s incredible! It’s something you don’t wake up to every morning, that’s for sure,” he said.

Collins is now a neighborhood hero.

Just before 11 a.m., Saturday, he said his entire house shook and he immediately ran outside to figure out what happened. That’s when he saw his neighbors house.

“I popped my head in and just asked, ‘is anyone in there?’ and you could hear her gasping for air in a scared manner,” said Collins. “You could tell she was shocked.”

So Collins put the woman on his shoulder and carried her out just in the nick of time.

“Within 30 seconds, the house just was engulfed,” he said. “So we had a very short time frame to get in and get her out.”

San Jose Fire Department officials said the woman lit a match in what they believe was the back bedroom. They said there was so much gas in the air in her home that lighting the match caused the house to explode.

“I didn’t smell any gas. I could only smell, truthfully, her hair because her hair had burnt all the way in the back,” said Collins.

By the time the fire department arrived, the front wall had blown out and the roof had collapsed. They say they don’t know how the woman was essentially unharmed when the house exploded and credit Collins for saving her life.

Collins didn’t think twice about it.

“If you’re a person with a heart, you want to help someone,” he said. “And seeing that poor lady crawling out of this rubble, I mean, I wasn’t just going to stand there. So, of course, I just jumped in.”

Just before this happened, Collins and another neighbor had been texting because his neighbor briefly smelled gas coming from somewhere but then said it quickly dissipated.

PG&E remained on scene hours after the fire was put out to assess the gas lines. Their crews told KPIX 5 it’s too early to determine what caused the gas smell.

Meanwhile, the woman is in the hospital and is expected to survive her injuries.

No other homes were badly damaged in the blast.


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