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Wednesday, August 20, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 6/24/2014 - Updated: 1 month ago

PROPANE TANK BLAMED FOR POWERFUL BLAST

1 in hospital, 4 others injured in Wauseon house explosion

BY STEPHENGRUBER-MILLER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A Wauseon firefighter examines the exterior of a home that exploded at 137 Clinton St. in Wauseon. The house was blown off its foundation and many of the windows were blown out. A Wauseon firefighter examines the exterior of a home that exploded at 137 Clinton St. in Wauseon. The house was blown off its foundation and many of the windows were blown out.
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WAUSEON — A house explosion Monday in Wauseon left one person hospitalized with serious burns and four others with minor injuries.

Wauseon Police Chief Keith Torbet said the blast at 137 Clinton St. occurred in a propane tank in the basement, where the homeowner was at the time.

“That’s the reason for his severe burns,” Chief Torbet said. “Everyone else just got compression damage.”

Chief Torbet said he knew the victim’‍s injuries were serious, but he was unsure of his condition.

“Most of the damage was done from the compression of the blast,” he said.

Behind him, windows were blown from their frames, the concrete foundation was cracked, and the porch roof was caved in.

The force of the explosion caused minor damage to the adjacent Masonic lodge, the chief said.

Police got a call notifying them of the explosion at 4:39 p.m. and within 30 seconds there were units on scene at the house, which is less than a block away from the fire station.

A helicopter airlifted the severely burned homeowner, whom police did not identify, to the hospital. Two children were taken by ambulance to Fulton County Health Center as a precautionary measure and two other adults in the house were evaluated on site, but refused further care.

“I’m just glad to see the four walked out on their own power,” nearby Wauseon resident Michael Pierce said. “Yeah, their ears were probably ringing, but ...”

Mr. Pierce identified himself as a friend of the resident of 133 Clinton St., the neighboring house. He said he walked over to make sure his friend was all right.

Police then evacuated adjacent buildings and cordoned off the street surrounding the house, but there were no further injuries.

Firefighters gather outside a Wauseon home where a propane tank is suspected of exploding. Authorities waited for the state fire marshal’s office to arrive before going into the house. Firefighters gather outside a Wauseon home where a propane tank is suspected of exploding. Authorities waited for the state fire marshal’s office to arrive before going into the house.
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The building appeared to be unstable and police were waiting for the fire marshal to arrive before they inspected the house.

“That back wall is blown clear out,” Mr. Pierce said of the rear wall, which stuck out at an angle.

“If that falls, it’‍s gonna fall on that house,” he said, gesturing toward 133 Clinton St.

Many Wauseon residents returned from work to find blue lights flashing and police tape across the street. Others said they had not realized what was happening even when they were nearby.

“I didn’t see anything or hear anything until I heard the sirens,” Heather Couts said, even though she was in her home only a few houses away.

Representatives from Ohio Gas inspected the house after the blast and said the explosion was not the result of a natural gas leak.

In addition to the Wauseon Fire Department, units from Archbold, Ohio, Delta, Ohio, and Morenci, Mich., responded to the incident.

Toledo hazardous materials units arrived later to assist in clearing the house.

Contact Stephen Gruber-Miller at: smiller@theblade.com, 419-724-6050, or on Twitter @sgrubermiller.



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