Destinites Mike Blanchard and Claudia Faye Boroughs sustained severe burns on Thursday when an explosion caught their home on fire.
He sustained burns to over 95 percent of his body, said Fire Chief Kevin Sasser. My guess is that they went to investigate the leak and ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Destin firefighters responding to 217 Calhoun Ave. found the engaged couple outside with Boroughs’ son, who did not sustain injuries in the blast, when they arrived on the scene shortly after 10 a.m. According to Sasser, the blaze was extinguished within five minutes.
Boroughs’ was badly burned from the waste up, but was sitting up when firefighters arrived. Blanchard was lying unclothed on a sheet in the yard with severe burns covering his body. He was overheard saying that the blast blew his clothes off, according to an Okaloosa County Sheriffs Office report.
Sasser said that despite the severity of their injuries, the two were alert and responsive when firefighters arrived. The victims told Sasser that they instructed the child to go outside when they began to smell gas. The explosion occurred shortly after, as the couple was investigating the source of the smell.
A neighbor was watching Boroughs’ son until a sister could travel from Alabama to be with him, an e-mailed prayer chain stated.
Please pray for all of them. Ask the Lord to intervene in this terrible situation, the e-mail stated.
As word spread about the tragedy, Destin United Methodist, the couples church home, quickly mobilized to take donations for the family.
Sasser said that the explosion was caused by a natural gas leak, but the source of the leak has not yet been determined. A crew from Okaloosa County Gas was at the home yesterday, investigating the leak, turning off the gas and locking the gas meter until the leak can be repaired.
The explosion occurred in a hallway utility room located between the garage and the rest of the house, Sasser said. The state fire marshall determined that the gas was ignited by the pilot light in the furnace, which is in that utility room.
The blast blew the garage door of the home off, sending it skipping over a car parked in the driveway. Many items within the garage were also blown into the driveway, and the front door was destroyed. Officials estimated the damage at $75,000.
After investigators and emergency responders cleared the scene, the homeowners arrived to board up the residence. It will be closed off until the source of the gas leak can be determined and repaired.
Both victims were life-flighted to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, and later moved to South Alabama Burn Center in Mobile, according to Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Michele Nicholson.