IA – The Harlan Tribune – A grandmother and her granddaughter escaped serious injury Friday after a gas explosion ripped through their home here Friday afternoon, March 18.
The gas smell still permeated the air nearly an hour after an accidental explosion destroyed the Gary and Jane Bissen home Friday.
Officials scrambled to find the source of the remaining smell, fearful that a continued gas leak could cause additional explosions at the home or nearby residences. The source was determined to be near the gas shut-off valve and down the gas pipe into the concrete of the patio.
Thankfully, nobody was injured in the blast, officials said. Jane A. Bissen and her granddaughter. 18-month-old Hannah A. Casedeer, were home, but sustained no injuries.That’s hard to believe after looking at the remains of the two-story home. They were taken to Myrtue Memorial Hospital by Earling Rescue for observation and treatment.
“The grandmother was outside on the patio and the 18-month-old was inside in the front room when the explosion occurred,” fire chief Tom Henrich told other officials on the scene.
Also on the scene was Thomas H. Gann, Audubon, an employee with Mid American Energy. He was in the area checking for a gas leak at the time of the explosion. “He was checking the regulator for debris and possible bleed through when the house exploded,” Shelby County Sheriff reports indicate.
Jane Bissen and a neighbor, Jeanine Wingert, had talked earlier in the day and observed a gas smell, prompting a visit from Mid American Energy to investigate.
The force of the blast blew out the north wall of the home. Furniture parts were skewered into the siding of the home. All of the windows exploded outward. A feather pillow lay in the street. Shards of glass, insulation and window frames flew 100 yards to the south and lay in adjacent neighbors yards.
Following the explosion, Gann shut off the gas to the house, and he and Jane Bissen ran into the home. “Mr. Gann said he heard the baby crying and found her and carried her outside,” reports said.
Firefighters and other volunteers went door to door to make sure there was no gas leak at nearby homes, and taped off a large area around the home for safety reasons.
The Iowa State Fire Marshall’s office and more Mid American Energy officials were called and arrived on the scene shortly after the explosion. Mid American Energy determined there was a leak near the shut-off valve at the house, and they dug down and found a gas leak near the collar of a gas pipe going into the concrete on the outside of the home.
The Iowa State Fire Marshall’s office ruled the explosion accidental.