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Girl killed as explosion levels house in Niagara County

A 14-year-old girl was killed when her house in the Town of Wilson exploded Tuesday morning. 

Niagara County Undersheriff Michael Filicetti  says the body of Sarah Johnson was found in the debris of 4972 Chestnut Road.  Johnson was due to enter the ninth grade at Wilson Central High School in September.

The Johnsons' single-family home on Chestnut Road near Beebe Road was leveled by the blast, which occurred around 6 a.m.

"It was an extreme blast," said Filicetti. "This is a tragedy for the family. We're going to do everything we can to figure out what happened here and help them in any way we can."

Filicetti says the parents, Jody and Judith Johnson, and two children were blown clear and were found in the front yard by the first deputy to arrive on the scene.  Authorities say the home used propane tanks but the cause of the explosion isn't known yet.

Those four family members were taken to ECMC via ambulance and Mercy Flight with serious injuries. The parents and 16-year-old Nathan Johnson are listed in stable condition, while 18-year-old Katie Johnson is in critical condition with severe burns.  Two of the family's children, 16-year-old Hannah and 10-year-old Sam, are said to have been staying with friends.

Several fire departments responded to the scene and a number of roads in the area were closed off. Chestnut Road has since reopened.

"It seems like a nightmare. I'm in shock. My heart goes out to the family," said neighbor Pam Henderson.

A vigil will be held at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Wilson High School. Donations for the family are being accepted at Ransomville Free Methodist Church.