Kirkland Stewart killed in Alexandria fire

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WJLA) -{ }An explosion and fire tore through an Alexandria townhome early Thursday, killing a man believed to be the lone occupant. It broke out in the 6900 block of Deer Run Drive. The fire consumed the townhome and left a neighboring residence heavily damaged.

The fire raged through the home in just seconds. Neighbors report hearing an explosion. The man who lived in{ }the townhome{ }was a heavy smoker and relied on several oxygen tanks, they say.

“I heard an explosion, big explosion,” says Abu Hasan, a neighbor. “Then a couple seconds later I heard another explosion.”

The blast awakened residents of the townhome community around 4 a.m.{ }Frightened neighbors{ }jumped from their beds to find out what had happened.

“Then I opened the patio door and I saw the big fire over there,” Hasan says.

By the time firefighters got it under control, the flames had devastated the townhouse.{ }

Friends identify the victim as Kirkland Stewart, 68.{ }He had been in very poor health and had very limited mobility. They say his wife died earlier this year.

A woman who lives next door says she tried desperately to get to Stewart.

“I ran around to see if I could get his door open and it was completely consumed by flames,” she says.

Investigators believe the fire began in the basement near a very large oxygen tank. They found Stewart on the first floor near the door of the balcony. He may have been trying to get out, but fire moved too fast.{ }