MONROE - A 72-year-old woman who was in her house when it exploded Saturday escaped without serious injuries.
Norma Trout walked out of the home with the help of neighbors who had run over to assist her. Her hair was singed and neighbors said her face and head were burned, but she was not seriously hurt. She went to Mercy Memorial Hospital, Monroe, with a relative.
“I was worried about her because I know she lives alone. Luckily the neighbors ran to help her because that house was just a big ball of flames,” said Karen Mead, who lives across the street.
Yesterday, the Monroe County Sheriff's Department and Aquila, the company that provided gas to the home, said a Comcast Cable worker installing cable punctured a buried line, which sparked the fire. The gas line was marked, Aquila officials said.
One official said the worker punctured a two-inch hole in the four-inch gas line.
The explosion destroyed Mrs. Trout's house. Debris was hurled across the street into nearby yards. Yesterday, ash covered the charred remains of a home that was reduced to splinters of wood by the explosion. The heat of the fire was so intense it melted the siding of the houses across the street.
A home next to the one owned by Mrs. Trout also was destroyed. Nobody was in that house. Five other houses were damaged.
Mrs. Trout was in her manufactured home about 3:30 p.m. as workers from Comcast Cable were installing cable. Monroe County sheriff's deputies said the cable company accidentally cut a gas line.
Mrs. Trout smelled gas and was told Aquila was on its way, deputies reported. But just minutes later, the house exploded.
“I was standing in my kitchen, and from here, I can see right out my son's window,” said Mrs. Mead, who moved into the subdivision with her family just a month ago. “I heard it - it was so loud - and then I saw a huge ball of flames. The whole house was in flames.”
It took firefighters from four departments about 45 minutes to control the blaze. The house at 830 Stevens Trail is in a subdivision that is across the road from the Monroe County Fairgrounds in Raisinville Township. A man from the company that built the homes said the subdivision is three years old.
Dozens of people were evacuated. Gas was shut off to about 20 customers so the lines could be checked for further leaks. Yesterday, gas was restored to all but a handful of homes where the lines needed to be checked for heat damage.
Aquila spokesman Paul Livernois said the company is sure nothing was wrong with the gas line before it was punctured. Workers from Aquila and from a company that builds manufactured homes worked yesterday at the scene, which was surrounded by yellow police tape.
An official from Comcast could not be reached for comment.
Mrs. Mead said she was glad her home and family were spared. “It could have been any of these houses, any one of them,” she said.