Several homes evacuated after house fire and explosion in Okolona


by Johnny Archer

Posted on December 6, 2011 at 9:01 AM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 6 at 7:29 PM

(WHAS11) - A massive explosion in Okolona destroyed an entire two-story home around 7 a.m. Tuesday. Inside the house was Everton Coelho, his wife and their 2-year-old daughter.

“I just thank God my daughter is here and I’m with my wife,” said Coelho.

They all escaped while debris in the house was coming down around them. But the family dog did not make it out alive.

Their neighbor in the 5200 block of River Trail Place, John Bates, heard the explosion as he was getting out of bed.

“I never experienced anything like that,” said Bates. “It was just ugly and it happened real quickly.”

Fire crews believe a gas leak found caused the explosion. For an hour and a half, flames blew out of sewers and natural gas filled the air. Prior to the explosion, LG&E was called out because a neighbor could smell leaking gas.

“LG&E was checking on that with what they call a digging crew,” said Okolona Fire Marshal Mike Allendorf.  “They did come out and detect the odor and within a matter of minutes of getting here they had an explosion.”

About 18 families evacuated from their home. LG&E turned off the gas and electric in the entire neighborhood for safety reasons and will not turn them back on until later in the evening. 

“It was a massive, massive boom,” said Bates. “I never heard anything like it.”

Coelho and his wife were taken to University Hospital and their daughter was taken to Kosair Children's Hospital. Emergency crews say the family appeared to have no physical injuries, but are being checked for precautionary reasons.

“I never had such a big loss, it’s the first time,” said Coelho. “I’ve seen it happen on the news, but never thought with me.”