Annapolis, MD – Jose Estrada returned to his Pasadena home at about 5 p.m. Wednesday to the smell of gas.
He called the propane gas company, and they came out and put a temporary fix in place and promised to return Thursday.
But on Thursday, there was nothing left to fix. Mr. Estrada’s home was destroyed at about 10 p.m. in a fire that county fire officials say was at least due in part to a gas leak.
Mr. Estrada was in an upstairs office and his wife, Irene, was in bed when they heard an explosion.
“I thought it was an earthquake. A very big earthquake. The furniture bounced,” Mrs. Estrada said Thursday afternoon. “It never crossed my mind it was the propane tank.”
When Mr. Estrada went to the stairs to investigate, all he saw was flames. That’s when the couple ran out of the house.
The only thing either of them picked up on their way out was a cell phone, and Mrs. Estrada called 911 from the driveway as she watched her house burn.
By the time firefighters arrived – about 15 minutes later by Mrs. Estrada’s account – the two-story, single family home was 80 percent in flames. An “all hands” effort was requested to fight the blaze, bringing 43 firefighters to the scene on B&L Club Road.
According to fire officials, the home was a total loss, with value estimated at $400,000.
“In one hour, the house was gone. Everything was gone,” Mrs. Estrada said, looking at its remains.
The couple had lived in the home for about a year. They had been living in a small house in Brooklyn Park when Mr. Estrada persuaded his wife to go for their dream of owning a big house.
“I hope one day we can get it back,” Mr. Estrada said wistfully. “We’ve been enjoying the house.”
Neither of them was able to pick up wallets or keys, and Mr. Estrada escaped the house with only the clothes he had on and no shoes.
He wishes he had been able to save his Toyota Tacoma, which he loves.
He considered trying to save it from the blaze but was unable to even open the garage.
For now, they’re still dealing with the shock of the fire. They’re staying in a hotel room provided by the Red Cross for a few days and their insurance will help after that.
“It’s hard to believe the house is gone,” Mr. Estrada said.
The county Fire Department is still investigating what sparked the fire, though investigators feel that the propane leak contributed to it, said Lt. Roy Phillips, fire department spokesman.
Mr. Estrada said he’s thankful that they were able to get out safely.
“Everything is going to be fine,” he said. “I told my wife, we are lucky.”