OR, OH – An Oregon homeowner escaped injury yesterday morning after an apparent natural gas explosion ripped through her kitchen, with the ensuing fire causing the back portion of her home to collapse.
Chris McGrellis said she had just returned to her Seaman Road home shortly after 10 a.m. when she smelled gas. Ms. McGrellis said she was on the telephone with her brother when she heard an explosion.
“I looked in the kitchen and saw spots of fire,” said Ms. McGrellis, who escaped with a small blanket over her shoulders.
“I told my brother I had to hang up and call 911. I went to a neighbor’s house and called. I was really shocked,” she said.
The explosion and blaze leveled the kitchen, which was in the back of the house.Fire crews were able to save the front portion of the home but had to cut holes into the roof as a fire vent.
Just a day earlier, Ms. McGrellis said crews from Columbia Gas told her they’d detected a gas leak on her property. She said she contacted a plumber to repair the leak and another Columbia Gas crew returned about 10:30 p.m. to check the work and return her to service.
Yesterday, Steve Jablonski, a Columbus spokesman for Columbia Gas, said the company is investigating.
Mr. Jablonski said if the leak was on the customer’s property, it was the customer’s responsibility to fix it. He said he could not confirm if Columbia crews had been to the home or if they gave Ms. McGrellis the approval to work on the line Saturday.
“I just don’t know that right now, but we’re looking into it,” he said. “I just don’t want to speculate on anything right now.”
Mr. Jablonski said he did not believe there were leaks on Columbia Gas lines that were not on private property. “They told me everything was fine,” Ms. McGrellis said.
Jesus Vasquez, who lives across the street, said he heard a big explosion and then two smaller ones. Mr. Vasquez said, though, with the Sun Oil Refinery so close to his home, that noise was common.
“I didn’t think anything of it at first because I thought it was Sun,” Mr. Vasquez said. “Then we heard the fire trucks and we ran outside and saw the back of the house in flames. Even the grass in back of the house was on fire. We were worried about people being inside.”
Assistant Chief Bill Flanagan estimated damage at $100,000 to $150,000. No one was hurt. Chief Flanagan said the cause remains under investigation.