2 women who helped victims of Vernon explosion speak about harrowing experience

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VERNON--Two women didn't let the fear and chaos stop them from helping their neighbors.

On Thursday around 4:15 p.m. a house on East Street in Vernon exploded and collapsed. Four people were trapped in the home, with no way to escape or call 911.

Thankfully, several witnesses called 911 on their behalf. But while the first responders were very quick to get to the scene, those passing by were even quicker, and helped comfort the victims while they awaited back-up.

Shawna Schnitzke, a social worker from Tolland, and Lisa Gagnon, a nurse from Wethersfield, drove around the corner by East Street when a devastating view popped up. As they turned the corner, they "saw a bunch of people saw smoke dust ," Schnitzke said.

"It was a war zone, it really was," said Gagnon.

The duo heard people calling out and jumped to action, one going on each side of the building. They didn't know it at the time, but that was a smart move; two victims were in the front of the home, and two were in the back.

"I heard the woman yelling 'help' with the son. I was telling her to knock on the wood to figure out where she was. She said her legs were pinned," Schnitzke explained about the situation.

By the time Schnitzke reached the victim, she says emergency crews were already pulling up.

Thankfully, all seven victims are expected to survive.

As for Schnitzke and Gagnon? They're a little bruised, but will be okay.

"It's amazing how poor I feel all banged up, I can't even imagine how they feel like right now," Schnitzke said.

Click here to read more about the explosion, the victims' injuries and the investigation.

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