By Robert Mills

TEWKSBURY - Two men and a woman were flown to Boston trauma centers with serious burns after an explosion inside a home on Astle Street Tuesday night, and police are searching for two people who may have fled the home just before the explosion.

Police Chief Timothy Sheehan said police and firefighters were called to 22 Astle St., on a hill near Walmart, at 9:17 p.m., by a 911 call reporting an explosion that blew windows out of the home.

Sheehan said witnesses reported "an explosion, windows had blown out of the house, flames, three individuals that had been burned and potential for some other individuals that may have left the scene prior to our arrival.

Paramedics load one of the burn victims onto a stretcher in preparation for a medical helicopter flight to a major trauma center.sun/julia malakieSun staff
Paramedics load one of the burn victims onto a stretcher in preparation for a medical helicopter flight to a major trauma center. sun/julia malakie

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Firefighters quickly struck a second-alarm as they battled a fire that broke out inside the home following the explosion, and requested mutual aid ambulances from Wilmington and Billerica to rush to the scene.

Police immediately blocked off Astle Street and transported the three burn victims by ambulance to the parking lot at Walmart, where three medical helicopters landed in the parking lot to transport the patients to Boston trauma centers.

Their conditions were not immediately available, and Sheehan said it is unclear if the burns are life-threatening.

"It's too early to tell," Sheehan said. "They had burns to their head, hands, and face area."

Sheehan said they suffered "flash type" burns from the explosion.


Fire Department radio broadcasts indicated at least one resident said they turned on the stove and there was an explosion in the kitchen area. The home has natural gas service.

Sheehan said police are searching for two individuals who a witness saw leaving the area around the time of the explosion. Police department radio broadcasts indicated those individuals may be in a black pickup truck, and police shared that truck's license plate number with several nearby police agencies.

Sheehan said the cause of the explosion remains under investigation. State police troopers from the State Fire Marshall's Office were called to the scene to assist Tewksbury Police with the investigation.

Sheehan said he could not yet say whether the investigation into the cause of the explosion is a criminal investigation. Town records list the two-story clapboard home as built in 1800 and currently owned by Herbert Mulno Jr. and Mildred Mulno, who live down the street. It is valued at $343,100, according to the town assessors' office.

According to a Tewksbury Historical Society survey, the house is known as the Elbridge Livingston House, named for its first owner. In 1876, Livingston sold the house to Thomas C. Baker, a part owner of a company that provided chemicals to the industrial mills in Lowell. Herbert Mulno's parents purchased the house in 1944, running a turkey farm there that remained in operation as late as 1965.

Staff Writer Katie Lannan contributed to this report.

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