Alsace Township, PA – A 65-year-old man was burned Sunday afternoon when the gas stove inside his Alsace Township mobile home exploded as he tried to light it, authorities said.
Kermit Schnader was flown to Lehigh Valley Hospital near Allentown with burns to his head and hands after the 3:45 p.m. blast and fire in his residence in the first block of Miller Lane, fire officials said.
A hospital spokeswoman said Sunday night that she had no record of Schnader.
Schnader told neighbors and emergency responders he was trying to light his propane stove when it “popped.”
Within minutes, flames engulfed the 70-foot-by-14-foot, wood-and-tin trailer, Alsace Fire Company Chief Wendy Becker said.
Neighbors said it was a miracle Schnader survived because the explosion was so violent.
“The whole valley heard it,” said Connie Ollar, who lives about 50 feet from Schnader’s trailer. “I don’t know how he got out of the way of the explosion.”
Becker gave a similar description.
Trooper Michael J. Kowalick, a fire investigator from the Reading state police station, said a malfunction in the stove caused the explosion. He ruled the blast and fire an accident.
The explosion was so loud that a friend of Ollar’s a few miles away in Fleetwood called asking what had caused it, Ollar said.
Soon after Ollar heard the blast, she looked outside and saw the trailer in flames.
Schnader staggered to her home and was in obvious pain, she said. His hands were badly burned, and his hair was singed, she said.
Firefighters tended to him until ambulance personnel arrived.
Schnader told his neighbor that he was preparing coffee when the stove exploded as he turned it on.
Becker estimated damage at about $75,000. Firefighters could do little to save the trailer, she said.
“It was fully involved when we got here, and partially collapsed, so I was not sending anyone inside,” she said.
Schnader lived there with his sister-in-law, Betty Schnader, Becker said. The woman was not home at the time of the explosion.
About 50 firefighters responded.