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A Nebraska family’s home was leveled following a mysterious blast that killed an elderly woman and her daughter and shook an Omaha neighborhood on Tuesday morning.
Theresa Toledo, 73, and her daughter Angela Toledo Miller, 45, died in the home explosion on Dec. 9, the Omaha World-Herald reported. Larry Rodriguez, Theresa Toledo’s 72-year-old partner, and her 28-year-old grandson, Alex Toledo, were critically injured. The two were rushed to Nebraska Medical Center and later airlifted to a burn unit in Kansas City, according to relatives.
Firefighters arrived at the home around 8:15 a.m. on Dec. 9. The explosion reportedly shook houses across the neighborhood and wrought havoc on nearby properties. Firefighters said a dog was also killed in the blast, according to KPTM.
“Folks felt the explosion from blocks away but the scene is being secured,” Omaha Police wrote in a statement on Twitter.
Heavy clouds of smoke could also be seen for blocks, bystanders said.
"I heard this loud explosion, and you could feel it,” neighbor Carlos Hernandez told KETV. “Everybody felt it."
One neighbor described the residential explosion in apocalyptic detail.
"I came outside and there was fire floating in the air," Tawny Schatzs said. "I saw a man on fire, a lady on fire, people screaming.”
Another neighbor said she saw a “completely charred” man emerge from the blast.
“His clothes were burned off him,” Melanie Grabowski told the Omaha World-Herald. “He was totally out of it — in shock.”
It could take days before the cause of the explosion is determined, according to authorities.
The day before her death, Theresa Toledo had filed a protective order against her grandson, who was living at her home.
“I need Alex out of my house now before he destroys my house or harms me, the drugs make him crazy,” Toledo wrote, according to court papers obtained by the Omaha World-Herald.
Theresa Toledo said that her grandson had grown destructive and was allegedly taking methamphetamine and magic mushrooms, the Omaha World-Herald reported. She indicated she was fearful he may ignite her home one day.
“I told Alex that he needs help to get off the drugs and get a job,” she wrote, according to the affidavit. “He has put holes in the basement walls where he stays and you can’t even walk in the basement. He had electronics in the walls and ceiling. I’m afraid he will start my house on fire.”
Alex Toledo had a number of recent brushes with the law, according to the protective order filed by his grandmother. In June, she alleged he stole an iPad from a Walmart. Months later, he was taken into custody on suspicion of narcotics charges after allegedly acting erratically and walking through traffic. Toledo has a court date scheduled in that case for Jan. 19, the Omaha World-Herald said.
Friends said that Theresa Toledo was a devoted mother and grandmother who will be remembered for her love of cooking, particularly of Mexican dishes.
“[Theresa] was a friend to everyone,” Judy Devault Toledo told the Omaha World-Herald. “Even though there was a divorce, it was just like one plain family. We kept in close touch.”
Theresa Toledo’s niece said that she was retired.
“She loved her family,” Cathie DeLoa told the Omaha World-Herald. “She loved her kids, her grandkids. She was always there for everybody….“She’d do anything for anybody."
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