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Published: Wednesday, 12/24/2008

Woman severely burned in blast, fire

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Firefighters direct water into the destroyed home on South Reynolds Road. The home's resident was badly burned. Firefighters direct water into the destroyed home on South Reynolds Road. The home's resident was badly burned.
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A severely burned woman was flown to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center yesterday after her mobile home exploded in a fireball, authorities said.

Fire officials did not release her name, but neighbors identified the victim as Pat Caudill, who lived alone in the home. A hospital spokesman said she was in critical condition last night.

The mobile home, in Lot 60 in the Meadowbrook Estates community, 340 South Reynolds Rd., burst into flames shortly before 5 p.m.

Buck Buck
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"It was totally involved when we got here. Everything was burning," Fire Battalion Chief David Hitt said. The explosion blew out both ends of the structure, and the blaze took firefighters about 20 minutes to bring under control.

Neighbors heard a loud, concussive blast at about 4:50 p.m. that shook their own mobile homes, and rushed to see what had happened.

"I ran outside and called 911 on my cell phone. Flames were everywhere," said a visibly shaken Jennifer Morrin, who lives across the street from the destroyed mobile home.

Larry Buck, who also lives across the street, said he had just returned from Christmas shopping and was outside when the blast rattled him.

"I heard a loud boom. It was so loud I thought something had hit my trailer," he said.

Morrin Morrin
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Mr. Buck rushed to the street and saw huge flames rising out of Ms. Caudill's mobile home. He ran to the burning structure and opened the door.

"She was standing there, in shock. Her outer garments were burned and her skin was peeling," Mr. Buck said.

Mr. Buck and another neighbor put Ms. Caudill in the back of Mr. Buck's car, which was still warm from the shopping trip, and stayed with her until firefighters arrived.

The intersection of Reynolds and Hill Avenue was closed to traffic and used as a landing zone for the medical helicopter.

Chief Hitt said the mobile home was a total loss, but had no dollar estimate of damages last night. He said no cause had been determined, and the fire was under investigation.

Mr. Buck said Ms. Caudill was in her late sixties.

He noted that he and his neighbors heated their homes with natural gas, and suspected a gas explosion.



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