Thomas Hewitt was listening to music in Brandy Springs Park Monday afternoon when he heard what sounded like an explosion.

“It was loud enough to go over the top of my stereo and I had my stereo up pretty loud,” Hewitt said.

The noise turned out to be the sound of an abandoned house at the edge of the park collapsing as it burned.

Smoke from the fire drew a crowd of onlookers to the house at 197 William Wardle Drive, behind one of the park’s softball fields.

Firefighters from East End Volunteer Fire Department were called out at 12:50 p.m., said a 911 supervisor.

Assistant Fire Chief Jesse Badger said firefighters were on the scene about six minutes later and found the house ablaze. They had the fire under control in less than 10 minutes, he said.

Firefighters kept it contained and away from overhanging trees nearby. Nearly half the structure was consumed in the fire. Two old stone chimneys remained standing over the smoking ruins Monday afternoon.

The house, which Mercer police said was owned by a Meadville man, had been abandoned for about 20 years, Badger said. He didn’t know if it was insured.

A state police fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

Springfield Township and Grove City Volunteer Fire departments were also called out.

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