A propane explosion rocked a Perrysburg Township home yesterday afternoon, injuring one of five family members who were inside the two-story structure.
Julie Parrish, 5, was treated at St. Luke’s Hospital for a gash on her foot. She was in the kitchen, the room that suffered the most damage, when the explosion occurred about 3 p.m.
Escaping injury were Julie’s father, Tony Parrish, and Julie’s siblings Anthony Parrish, 22, of Fairfield, Conn.; Jennifer McNutt, 15, and Jessica McNutt, 13. Roxie, the family’s chocolate-colored Labrador, made it out of the house safely, too.
Julie’s mother Margie Parrish was at work, two minutes away, when the home at 29640 Glenwood Rd. exploded.
Family members who were inside the home when it exploded, Jessica McNutt, 13, left, Jennifer McNutt, 15, and their brother, Anthony Parrish, 22, share a hug outside. Officials say the house on Glenwood Road in Perrysburg Township is destroyed.
“I thought it was an earthquake,” said Anthony who was visiting with his family when the explosion hit, kicking out walls, crumbling the foundation, and popping out windows.
“I was walking along, took a step, and the explosion lifted me a foot off the ground. I remember thinking I didn’t know that earthquakes hit Ohio. It all happened in a second,” he said, snapping his fingers. “Just like that. It was pretty crazy. It’s a miracle everyone’s okay.”
Jennifer was relaxing on a couch when the explosion hurled the heavy piece of furniture through a nearby window.
“I freaked out. Everybody did,” Jennifer said as she and relatives, some crying with relief that the family escaped serious injury, stood staring at the shattered house.
Shards of glass littered the wooden deck, a window screen was tossed into a nearby flower bed, and tattered tufts of insulation dotted the front yard.
The force of the explosion blew out walls and windows and sent glass shards flying. Only one person was injured.
Tom Brice, deputy chief of the Perrysburg Township Fire Department, said there was a gas explosion and it is under investigation. There was no fire, he said.
Portions of the Parrish property were flooded by heavy rains that swamped the Toledo area Wednesday night and into yesterday morning. When asked if flood water had anything to do with the explosion, the deputy chief said “we’re working that angle too. That is definitely possible.”
The family used propane gas from a tank to heat the home and water, he said. The house has a crawl space and no basement, he said.
“We have propane heat, but we mostly use the fireplace,” said Jessica who was in the dining room, typing a message on the computer, when she heard a boom.
“The computer desk lifted up, I leaned back, and felt the house shake. I heard windows pop out. I did see sparks. The computer blew up along with the rest of the house,” she said.
Immediately after the explosion, it was difficult to see as dust clouds drifted through the rooms, she said. “I swallowed all that sawdust,” Jessica said.
After the dust settled and she could safely see to move away from the computer, she ran into the living room where everyone was accounted for – except Julie.
“I was running through the house looking for her. I found her in the kitchen but she was stuck. I got a hold on her, picked her up, and ran out of the house. I couldn’t open the side door.” The floor was heaved, blocking her escape route. “I had to run through the front door.”
Once outside, the family checked each other closer for injuries. “We saw a really deep gash on the top of Julie’s foot. I still have blood on my hands from it,” Jessica said, turning her hands palm up.
“Dad took off his shirt and wrapped her foot, but every two seconds blood was gushing,” Jessica said. “Julie was so shocked she didn’t notice she was hurt.”
Mr. Parrish wanted to get car keys so he could drive his injured daughter to a hospital “but we couldn’t get in the house to get the keys. Dad ran to the neighbors house,” Jessica said.
The neighbors took Mr. Parrish and Julie to St. Luke’s Hospital, Jessica said.
And it was Jessica who made the call to Mrs. Parrish: “Mom, the house just blew up.”
Her mother didn’t think what seemed to be a prank call was amusing at all.
“Mom said ‘That’s not funny’,” Jessica said.
Peering into the back of the house, Jessica gasped when she saw a wooden door, splintered and severed nearly in half by the impact, leaning against piles of debris. “That door leads to the kitchen,” she said. Or it used to.
Late yesterday afternoon Mrs. Parrish, a stunned look still etched on her face and her eyes rimmed with tears, said her 5-year-old daughter might need plastic surgery because “the gash is too wide to sew up.”
Mrs. Parrish was tending to her other children, making sure her loved ones had a safe place to stay before she hurried back to the hospital.
As she left, she glanced over her shoulder at her family and their broken home. A sob caught in her throat.
Because of extensive structural damage, the deputy fire chief said, the house likely is a total loss.