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Gas explosion causes large house fire

Charleston-Huntington WSAZ-TV logo Charleston-Huntington WSAZ-TV 11/3/2021 Brendan Tierney
Burnt wood and mangled metal is all that remained after an explosion sparked this house fire in Charleston on Tuesday evening. © Provided by Charleston-Huntington WSAZ-TV Burnt wood and mangled metal is all that remained after an explosion sparked this house fire in Charleston on Tuesday evening.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Two people remain in critical condition after an explosion caused a house fire in Charleston on Tuesday night.

The Charleston Fire Department said a propane gas leak caused the house along Kearse Drive to blow up, sending the family of three people that was inside the house flying through the air in the ball of fire.

The Fire Marshal is working to figure out what caused the gas to ignite, but said a leak filled the house with gas. The explosion was so strong, it sent pieces of the house onto the hillside across the street and blew out the windows of the house next door.

Firefighters identified the victims as a 33-year-old man, a 55-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man. All three were taken to the hospital, and then one had to be flown to a burn unit in Pittsburgh with burns on 68% of his body.

3 burned in Charleston house fire, two critically

Charleston Fire Department Lt. David Hodges said propane heaters should only be used outside where there is proper ventilation. In addition to the risk of fire or an explosion, he said carbon monoxide can also easily kill people.

“Propane is very explosive and volatile,” Hodges said. “So, if we do have a small leak, not only are we displacing the oxygen in our home, it does create a significant risk of explosion.”

You should not bring a propane tank into your home because it can leak and violently explode with any ignition source, Hodges said. That can cause the walls to be blown out and the roof to fly off a house, like what happened on Tuesday night.

Firefighters are concerned there will be more fires and possibly explosions like this across the city, with people using heaters with colder weather arriving this week.

Hodges said electric heaters that are meant for indoor use can also cause major problems if they are used within 3 feet of furniture, walls or other flammable objects like curtains.

“We like to crank up the heaters, the space heaters at nighttime. We are typically in our bedrooms or things like that we like to be warm and cozy,” Hodges said. “We shouldn’t be doing that. Any time we can’t be watching that, we need to have that unplugged. Not just off, it needs to be unplugged.”

Hodges recommended keeping doors closed to help reduce drafts. It can also isolate a fire and slow the spread if one does happen.

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