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Leaking propane causes huge explosion

by Erika Kirsch Western News Editor
| November 13, 2007 11:00 PM

Dell and Jo Osborn were sleeping soundly at 4 a.m. Friday morning at their Milnor Lake Road home when an explosion in their guest house blew out a bay window in their main home and left nothing at the foundation of the guest house.

There was no one staying in the guest house at the time, but guests were due to arrive for the Thanksgiving holiday, Jo said. The guest house is approximately 30-40 feet from the main house where Dell and Jo live, according to Troy Fire Marshal Darren Coldwell. Dell had turned on the propane heat approximately one month ago and was checking the house on a weekly basis, Jo explained. The propane tank was working when he was checking it regularly, but Dell hadn't checked it in about one week before the explosion.

There was a leak and the "house filled up with propane from the ground up and the pilot light turned on and it just blew up, there was hardly any fire," Coldwell said.

The guest house was a 16-by-18-foot structure and had one bedroom,

one bathroom and a utility room, Jo said. The single bedroom was an existing building when the Osborn's moved into the home 13 years ago and they added the bathroom and utility room approximately eight years ago.

The explosion was heard five miles away, Jo said. The Osborn's neighbor, who lives three miles away, heard the explosion and looked out her bedroom window and "saw a big ball of fire," Jo continued.

"Very little fire was involved [in the explosion]," explained Troy Fire Chief Larry Chapel. "It just exploded."

Nothing was left of the guest house after the explosion — no walls, no ceiling, nothing, Coldwell explained.

"People don't realize what propane can do," Coldwell said.

In addition to shattering the bay window of the Osborn's main house, the explosion also added a cracked door frame in the main house to the list of damages. Luckily, the explosion sucked all the glass away from the inside of the home and the glass from the window was all outside of the home, Jo explained.

The Osborn's had their home and outbuildings insured and the insurance company inspected the property on Tuesday. The Osborn's guests will be staying in the main house for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The incident is still under investigation, Chapel said.