This article was last updated on 4/23 at 5:33 p.m.
Firefighters stand on the turntable ladder, hold the extinguishing water in a smoking ruin from which cables, bent lines and broken wooden beams protrude. Roof tiles lay all over the place, stones and debris everywhere. Images of a tragedy: The resident had probably detonated two gas bottles.
It is 1:53 p.m. on Wednesday when a severe detonation shakes the small settlement on Wichheimer Strasse in Buchheim. Shortly after the bang, debris hurled 100 meters, hitting cars, walls and windows in the neighborhood.
Cologne-Buchheim: witness describes the explosion
When local resident Heinz Bartz (70) looks out of the window, he only sees clouds of smoke. “It was an insane explosion. I have known the senior who lives in the house in question for over 40 years. ”
This senior is already known to the authorities. He is 79 years old and was hospitalized several times in the Merheim psychiatry because he had noticed some dangerous actions. Among other things, he ran calmly months ago on Autobahn 59, where the police finally picked him up.
Because he obviously needed help, the court assigned him a guardian. He lives only a few houses away – and wanted to check on his protege on Wednesday. When he was close to the property, the house exploded before his eyes. Miraculously, the guardian remained unharmed.
However, four neighbors suffered minor injuries due to the impact of the pressure wave and were looked after by the rescuers who arrived a little later. Because the rubble of the house was finally on fire, firefighters first put out the fire.
Rescue dogs to find the Cologne senior
In the meantime, experts moved in with their rescue dogs to later look for the missing senior. But first the glowing debris had to cool down. Because half of the house was in danger of collapsing completely, the firefighters first had to tear off loose parts and support the rest of the house.
“It would be too dangerous for our emergency services to go in there and look for the missing person. Especially since we have to assume that he will not have survived this accident, ”said fire chief Christian Miller in the afternoon.
In the early Wednesday evening, rescue workers pulled a body out of the rubble. At first it was not certain whether it was the missing resident. After the autopsy on Thursday, however, it was clear: it is actually the 79-year-old resident.