Mansfield, CT – Mary Anne Ainsworth lost everything she owns. But some say she’s lucky.
The longtime Tolland librarian could have lost her life: She left her Bundy Lane house just minutes before it exploded Monday.
“She’s lucky to be alive,” said Barbara Butler, director of the Tolland Public Library, where Ainsworth has worked for 20 years. “We’re all very grateful.”
Ainsworth’s husband is also a familiar figure around town. He has been the town’s recreation and adult education director for about 30 years, Butler said.
Mansfield Deputy Fire Marshal Fran Raiola said the explosion was sparked by a propane leak. The fire, which preceded the blast, was “unintentional,” Raiola said, but the exact cause has not been determined. He said a family dog and cat died.
Firefighters from seven departments fought the blaze, which destroyed the house.
Mary Anne Ainsworth saw smoke and smelled propane before she left the house, Raiola said. The explosion happened as she was making her way down the driveway.
“She is extremely, extremely lucky,” Raiola said. “She got out of the house about one minute or two before the explosion.”
The Ainsworths are on a trip to Arizona to see their grown daughter, a visit that was planned before the explosion. While they’re away, people are raising money to help them rebuild their lives.
“They have nothing,” Butler said.
By Monday night, the Tolland Fire Department had donated more than $300. Tolland Little League baseball and softball teams are collecting donations in recognition of Tom Ainsworth’s work to support Tolland youth sports, according to a Tolland Fire Department press release.
Checks may be made out to the Ainsworth Family Fund at Rockville Bank, 6 Fieldstone Commons, Tolland, CT 06084.