Marne, OH – Faith Settles was standing at her kitchen sink around 8 p.m. Wednesday, doing her dishes and admiring the countryside.
She looked down the hill toward the vacant house her neighbor has been renovating when all of a sudden there was an explosion of light. Within two or three seconds, the light went away, but she never heard any sound. All that was left were small flames in the kitchen area of the house.
The explosion bowed walls and knocked the house at 1604 Montgomery Road off its foundation, owner Bob Jones said. The back door was blown 20 feet off the house.
“It looked like Desert Storm, a bomb going off,” Settles said. “The explosion was so massive. I don’t understand why I didn’t hear something. It was kind of weird.”
Settles immediately called 911, but someone already had called it in. She then called the homeowner’s daughter, Stephanie Jones, to make sure they were not in the house.
Jones and her father had turned the furnace on about two hours earlier because of the cold temperatures that were expected Wednesday night.
“I was praying to God that Stephanie and her dad were not in there,” Settles said.
Bob Jones found out about the explosion when he received a call while at a friend’s house. He and Stephanie Jones immediately went to the scene to find the house intact and only small flames on the floor of the kitchen.
Stephanie Jones put the flames out with a fire extinguisher. But when the Madison Township Volunteer Fire Department arrived, they found insulation smoldering in the attic, and firefighters had to douse them.
“I’m just thankful my daughter and I were not there,” Bob Jones said. “We had just left.”
Bob Jones, a local farmer, had been renovating the house for the last year, his other daughter, Loretta Frenton, said. New windows, doors and a roof had been installed. The house recently had been listed for sale.
A new propane furnace was installed last spring and the air conditioning was used during the summer a few times. But Wednesday night was the first time the heat was turned on.
“It is a good thing that nobody was in the home at the time,” Frenton said. “He has been lovingly and painstakingly remodeling it for resell.”
The State Fire Marshal’s office was called and investigators arrived Wednesday night, spokesman Matt Mullins said.
“It was a total loss,” Mullins said. “At this time, we are not ready to make a determination. It is an open investigation.”
Bob Jones said he isn’t sure what he will do with the house. He hadn’t even been inside Thursday.
“It’s standing, but I’m sure it’s ruined inside,” Jones said. “It ruined my day, that’s for sure.”