Crooksville, OH – It’s going to take time and a lot of work, but Barbara Miller hopes she’ll find comfort in her own home again.
Her 2029 Tatman Road home is filled with black soot and the windows were blown out when a gas leak caused an explosion in her basement Tuesday.
“The blast was so loud, it about deafened us. I have never been around anything like that in my whole life,” Miller said.
Around 4 p.m. she was in the kitchen with her granddaughter, Jessica Thompson, 14, when the explosion happened. Miller had finished washing the dishes and the two were about to sit down at the kitchen table when the blast knocked both of them off their feet.
“It blew the door off the basement and it pushed me back against the kitchen sink,” Miller said. “I’m in kind of shock or something. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Miller and her granddaughter had gone down to the basement earlier to shut the water off because there was a water leak. While they were down there, Miller said Thompson turned a valve that Miller thought was safe.
“It was something like out of a science fiction movie. I’d been watching coverage of the earthquake (in Haiti), and I thought it was something like that. I had no idea that line down there was gas. My granddaughter turned it, and it was propane,” Miller said.
Thompson was transported to a hospital as a precautionary measure, treated and released. Miller said Thompson ran back into the house after the initial blast to call the fire department and inhaled smoke.
“I just cried so much last night. I don’t think I can cry anymore. I don’t know how we even got out of that,” Miller said.
The house, a single story dwelling, was Miller’s parents and wasn’t insured. She couldn’t bring herself to go see the house Wednesday, but family members went to see what needs to be done and if it can be cleaned for Miller to move back in.
“I know a lot of people are a lot worse off than I am. I’m just thankful I had someone to take me in,” Miller said of her son, Chris, with whom she is staying.
Crooksville Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Ralph Hill said the fire still is being investigated, but he thinks the explosion was caused by a gas leak. The explosion also caused a fire in the basement that caused minimal damage and was quickly contained.
“It blasted out all the windows in the house. It’s uninhabitable at the present moment,” Hill said.
He recommended having lines for furnaces and hot water heaters checked by a licensed heating and cooling professional before turning them on.
“My suggestion is before you fire up your furnaces or if you put in new gas hot water heaters, you need to check the lines for leaks,” Hill said.
The Roseville Volunteer Fire Department provided mutual aid and the Muskingum Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross provided financial aid for food and clothing.