Undetected propane leak blamed for leveling New Albany home in explosion

Explosion reduces Floyd Co. home to debris

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WHAS11) -- A failure in a propane supply line is being blamed for causing an explosion which leveled a home Monday morning, WHAS11 learned the State Fire Marshal's Office would determine.  

Fire crews were dispatched just before 10:30 a.m. to what was a one-story brick home on Smithwood Drive.

"There's nothing left standing," one first responder could be heard saying over the radio.

The line fed a propane furnace from an exterior tank, where investigators focused much of their attention Monday. But because no one was living in the home, the leak went unnoticed and it was unclear how long it had been leaking. 

Descriptions of the blast suggest the line may have been leaking for quite a while.

"Boom! and the whole building was shaking," neighbor Regina Tetley said of the moment she and her daughter felt the blast, "It felt like the building was going to come down."

What was also frightening was the idea someone could have been inside the home when the explosion happened. Fortunately, out of everything that was found at the scene, casualties were not on the list. 

No one was inside that home.

"We don't have any reported injuries which is absolutely a miracle," New Chapel Fire Department Capt. Matt Owen told reporters.

Jennifer Glascock, who lives on a street parallel to Smithwood, said she and her friend, who is a New Albany firefighter, got to the scene before first responders. She posted video of what they witnessed to a Facebook Live stream while working to put out flames that were reaching toward power lines.

Glascock said she noticed a home facing the demolished structure had its front door blown open. She said when she first called out, no one answered, but she found two women inside.

"I don't have any experience in anything like this so it's got me shaking," Glascock said.

"I kind of checked the area to see if anybody would answer and one of the guys down the street did say that he did see an old lady that lived here," Glascock's friend, New Albany Fire Sgt. Kevin Evans, said.

Everything from a purse to a child's shoe could be seen scattered in the immediate debris zone. Owens said some debris reached several streets away.

It's the home across the street, though, which bears the most bruises from the explosion. 

Everyone who felt the blast is left with something too.

"Be humble and grateful that things like this aren't happening to you because this can change your life in just a matter of a few seconds," Glascock added.

i-Team Investigator Derrick Rose can be reached at 502-582-7232 and dnrose@whas11.com. You can also find him on Twitter @WHAS11DRose

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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