Explosion destroys South Londonderry home
An explosion Thursday in South Londonderry flattened a home in a matter of minutes. Luckily, the property's caretaker was not inside.
"I got real lucky, yeah," caretaker Doug Stevens said.
Flames tore the guesthouse at West River Farm apart, and now investigators are trying to figure out how it happened and warning people to check their fuel lines and appliances.
Stevens had just finished plowing the driving of the sugarhouse directly across the road.
"I just got out of my truck and I heard boom!" Stevens said. "And I look over and see the roof lift up and the wall expand, things flying everywhere."
Firefighters say at about 10 a.m., the Winhall Hollow Road house exploded and then caught fire. The blast knocked window frames several yards from the structure.
"About three miles away I noticed a large column of smoke and immediately took it to a third-alarm assignment," South Londonderry Fire Chief Jeff Duda said.
Volunteer departments from around the region rushed to the scene, but there was no saving the 1840s guesthouse.
"It was pretty much fully involved," Duda said. "The roof had partially collapsed and flames were blowing out on three sides."
The owners of the property live in Chicago full time, though they were here just last week.
Stevens has been the caretaker for the last 14 years. He says propane was the primary heat source.
"It was a scary sight to see," he said. "You know to hear that boom and to see everything flying like that, so much power."
Investigators say the house had numerous propane-fueled appliances that were working in the house.
Firefighters say snow and ice from the roof did fall and totally buried the propane gas regulator attached to the building.
No obvious signs of a leak were found, but because of the damage, they aren't able to see potential burn patterns.
The cause of the explosion is still under investigation, however, firefighters say at this time it does not appear suspicious,