Jarales, NM – Clara Garcia News-Bulletin Staff Writer;
Jarales -A Jarales man says he feels lucky to be alive after his home literally exploded on top of him Monday night.
Edward Molina was in bed when he was suddenly awakened by a huge blast and falling debris. His house, which is located at 312 Armijo Road in Jarales, had apparently exploded due to a propane gas leak in the house, said Deputy Fire Marshal Charles Eaton.
“It appears that he must have had some sort of propane leak in the kitchen area,” Eaton said. “It was building enough propane fumes that caused an explosion.”
Eaton explained that, in most cases, the after-effect of the explosion is so intense that it smothers the flame. He said the leak could have been ignited by a number of things, such as static electricity from a dryer or a ceiling fan.
Molina said he had fallen asleep at about 8 p.m. and, the next thing he knew, his head was covered in insulation and fallen debris from his bedroom ceiling. He said at first he didn’t know what had happened, only that he knew he had to get out of the house.
“I couldn’t see anything because it was dark and there was a lot of dust,” Molina said. “I just woke up and my main focus was to get out of the house.”
After a few seconds, Molina was able to pick up two lanterns and crawl through house. He struggled his way through the fallen rubble toward the bathroom when he passed the kitchen.
“All I could see was that the floor was gone,” Molina said. “When I finally made it to the bathroom to get some clothes, I noticed that the washing machine and dryer were (knocked) down.”
He looked up to where the ceiling once was and could see lightning in the dark sky. His first thought was that lightning had struck the house he had been renting for the past five years.
Unable to get out of the house through the front door, Molina had to crawl back through the debris and into his bedroom and jump out a window. He said he was lucky that his bed wasn’t facing the opposite direction because the ceiling completely fell at the foot of his bed.
The explosion was so forceful the walls blew outward, causing the roof and ceiling to cave in. It also blew a portion of the stucco off the back side of the house, lifted a pole holding the carport out of a cement block and slid the entire house off its foundation.
“When I got out of the house, I turned off all the gas at the propane tank and the electricity so nothing could happen,” he said. “I took a shower that evening and everything was fine. I had hot water and I didn’t smell anything. I watched movies and, at 8 o’clock, I went to sleep.”
Molina, who is the maintenance manager at the Best Western Motel in Belen, escaped with a few scratches on his face.
“If I were in the kitchen cooking, it would have just ripped me apart,” said Molina. “I didn’t realize it was a gas explosion until I went back to the house Tuesday morning. I was just in shock.”
Molina doesn’t know what he’s going to do now. He said although the owners of the house have insurance on the structure, he never did get around to buying renters insurance.
Eaton said older structures could develop gas or propane leaks because the piping and foundation in the houses shifts. He suspects that the amount of rain that has recently fallen could have allowed the movement of propane gas lines, causing a leak.