Gaylord, MI –

A propane gas leak was the apparent cause of a Christmas Day explosion which blew out the walls and windows of a home and sent one man to the hospital for treatment of his burns.

Chub Lake Association president and neighbor Dan Calcaterra identified the property owner as Slavco Cvetkoski of Warren and said Cvetkoski was still hospitalized as of midday Friday. Cvetkoski was the only person in the home.

Otsego Lake Township Fire Chief Joe Shelly said the explosion happened around 5:30 p.m. at the seasonal home off Chub Lake Ridge Road near Big Chub Lake, when the homeowner was apparently working on a propane appliance in the sub-level and heard a gas leak. Shelly believed a woodstove, which had been burning upstairs, may have been the ignition source for the gas; however, the investigation is ongoing and the ignition source has yet to be determined. Both Shelly and Calcaterra said Cvetkoski was walking up the basement stairs when the gas ignited.

Calcaterra, who lives two houses down, was home when the explosion occurred.

“There was a bunch of us sitting around playing cards and celebrating Christmas, and we heard a boom,” Calcaterra said. “We didn’t think much of it because of the military bombing we have around here. But it shook the windows.”

“It would’ve been quite an explosion, I’m sure of that,” Shelly said Friday as he surveyed the damage.

Several outer walls of the home were blown out or detached completely from the rest of the structure, windows were shattered and doors rested in the snow 15 feet away from their doorways. Smaller debris was strewn as far as 30 feet from the home. There was little sign of charring and no smell of smoke; and the inside of the home was in a state of chaos with chunks of fiberglass insulation hanging from the ceiling. It appeared a portion of the home was under construction.

“The explosion just put itself out,” Shelly said. “There was no fire afterward.” He believed the house was ready to collapse.

Calcaterra said Cvetkoski showed up at his door half an hour after the explosion, looking for his two dogs.

“He was burned on his hands and face and his hair was singed,” Calcaterra said.

As of midday Friday, Calcaterra was taking care of the two dogs, Buddy and Diggy, and said it “took a while for them to stop shaking and calm down” Thursday night after the explosion.

The Michigan State Police and Otsego Lake Township Fire/EMS responded to the scene. Cvetkoski was transported to Otsego Memorial Hospital (OMH) for treatment of his burns. A report of his condition — or word whether he was still hospitalized at OMH — was not immediately available.

Shelly said the home is a good example of the dangers of gas leaks.

“If you smell gas, evacuate the building and call 9-1-1 or your gas company. If you can shut the gas off at the tank, that’s a big help,” Shelly said, adding he’s seen only a couple cases where the gas has ignited, during his nine years with the department.

Shelly said the fire marshal was expected to investigate the scene Monday.