Valley, NE- Two people died when a home near Valley exploded on Wednesday morning, and people close to the victims said they believe there was a problem with the home’s propane tank.
Authorities went to 250th and State streets, northeast of Valley, at about 5:30 a.m. They said they found the home almost destroyed when they arrived.
After nearly two hours fighting the fire, crews were able to get inside the house and found one person dead. Later, authorities said another person was found dead.
An official with the local school district told KETV NewsWatch 7 that Wayne and Illa Doherty live in the home. The official said Wayne Doherty is a longtime school bus driver for Waterloo and DC West schools. Most recently, he drove a special-needs bus. The official said the Dohertys are longtime residents of Valley and have grandchildren and great-grandchildren that have gone through the schools.
“Wayne was never absent, he was never sick,” said DC West Superintendent George Conrad. “He was a staple of the organization the school district. I’m still dealing with the notion that he is not there. That gets pretty tough on all of us in a small community that gets to know each other very well.”
“My parents were just married 50 years — just celebrated their 50-year anniversary, so that’s a nice thing,” daughter Sherrie Richey said. “My dad has been a bus driver for 15 years or better. They’re very well known in the area, and it’s going to be a loss to all of us.”
On Wednesday afternoon, officials had provided few details about exactly what happened. They have not officially released the cause of the explosion, but neighbors and family members said they believe they know exactly what happened.
“It’s horrible,” said Richey. “My parents are dead. I don’t know what to think at this point. I really don’t. We think it was a propane tank that did it.”
Waterloo crews arrived first and said they concentrated on moving a propane tank away from the house. Richey said her parents were having some leakage problems with their propane tank.
Crews from Valley, Fremont, Waterloo, Yutan, and Omaha responded. The state Fire Marshal’s Office said it was both a fire and explosion. Brad Sloup from that office said crews will have to take their time investigating the explosion.
Water had to be trucked about 1.5 miles to the site.
Rustry Jerman lives just a few hundred feet from the destroyed home.
“I woke up to a very loud explosion. It literally shook the house — almost knocked it down. It was probably one of the loudest sounds I’ve ever heard,” Jerman said, noting that he ran toward the house. “People were pulling water from the lake, throwing in on a guy. He must have just perished after I got there, but they were throwing water on where he was at.”