SAN LEANDRO -- A gas leak sparked an explosion and a two-alarm house fire Monday morning that injured a man, killed two of his dogs and revealed a marijuana grow inside the home, fire officials said Tuesday.
The fire started about 9:55 a.m. Monday at 2079 Altamont Road when heat lamps used for a pot grow ignited vapors coming from a faulty gas line connected to an outdoor barbecue pit, said Alameda County Fire Department spokeswoman Aisha Knowles.
The gas leak prompted a fiery explosion that blew out a wall in the three-story, two-garage home, then spread to the rest of the home owned by 46-year-old Ken Gee. The blaze sent smoke billowing hundreds of feet into the air and caused major damage to all three floors of the home, as well as the roof, attic and porch.
Firefighters were called to the home after neighbors reported seeing heavy smoke and fire. When crews arrived, they found the home ablaze and inside they discovered about 50 marijuana plants on the home's lowest level, said Alameda County Sheriff's Office Sgt. J.D. Nelson. As of Tuesday, Gee had not been arrested, Nelson said.
Crews, who smelled of marijuana after the blaze, controlled the fire in 30 minutes and extinguished it by 10:45 a.m., Walsh said.
Neighbors said the blast sounded like a bomb going off.
Gee stood with his wife on the street outside his burning home Monday and said he had been on an upper floor of the house when he heard an explosion on one of the lower levels.
"I heard a boom," said Gee, who said he has lived in the home with his wife since 2009. "It was so fast, and the fire just came, so I ran out."
After he ran outside, Gee realized two of his seven dogs were still inside and ran back to get them. He found one -- a miniature Pinscher named Lucky, but said the dog scrambled loose from his grasp and ran back into the home.
That dog was found dead inside, and another one inside died later from its injuries. Three other dogs -- two of them puppies, were found unharmed a few hours later, Knowles said Tuesday morning.
Gee suffered burns on his arms trying to rescue the dog but was otherwise OK, Knowles said. No one else was injured.
Gee spoke with reporters before the marijuana plants were discovered and was unavailable for comment after that.
Contact Natalie Neysa Alund at 510-293-2469 and follow her at Twitter.com/nataliealund.