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.{}