Gallatin, NY – Three adults were pulled from burning debris today, moments after the home in which they lived exploded.
The thunderous explosion happened just minutes after the family had reported a propane leak and just as firefighters were pulling up to their home.
It was not clear tonight what their conditions are.
The family had been away on vacation since Friday, and returned home at 1185 Jackson Corners Road Sunday morning to the smell of propane in the one-story house, said State Police Senior Investigator Gary Mazzacano.
As Livingston firefighters were arriving at the home around 11:30 a.m., a 200-pound propane tank exploded.
Firefighters Capt. Joe Jahns, Richie Jahns and Eugene Botts rushed to rescue the family from beneath the rubble, at which point a fire ignited, causing burns to the already ailing victims.
Walter and Helga Hess, 65 and 67, and their son Walter Hess Jr., 41, lived in the home, according to state police. State police were unable to provide information on their conditions Sunday night.
Walter Hess and Walter Hess Jr. were transported to an unknown trauma center by helicopter. An ambulance transported Helga Hess to Columbia Memorial Hospital in Hudson, according to emergency officials.
The only pieces of the house standing were a few blackened walls and a stone fireplace.
Insolation, wood and household items, including a treadmill, littered the lawn and a nearby dry creek.
A rose of sharon blooming in a rock garden stood out among the damage, as did a detached garage and pigeon coop.
It was, Mazzacano said, a substantial explosion.
As firefighters worked to extinguish small smoldering areas, the smells of burning wood and plastic filled the air.
Livingston Fire Chief Jack Lasher said the cause of the explosion is still under investigation.
What we know now is there was a propane explosion, Lasher said at the scene.
He said firefighters were hoping to leave the scene by sundown. Its going to be a while, he said. Lasher could not be reached late Sunday night.
Officials said 911 agencies in both Dutchess and Columbia counties received multiple calls from neighbors after the explosion, since the property is on the border of the Town of Milan.
Neighbor Martin Hieronymi said he was sitting on his porch when the house exploded.
It rocked my house, Hieronymi said. I heard the fire signal and about three minutes later I heard the explosion. … As I walked over there, I saw the house was completely down demolished.
He said he didnt think the bomb-like sound was coming from so close, but he knew once he saw the smoke.
In addition to the Livingston Fire District, the Milan, Greenport, Pine Plains, Germantown, Taghkanic and Clermont fire departments responded, as did members of the Columbia County Cause and Origin Team, the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control, the Greenport Rescue Squad, Northern Dutchess Paramedics.