Meadville, PA – It sounded like a hissing and then an explosion, said Frank Denison about Tuesdays fire that destroyed a mobile home in Meadvilles Asbury Manor East trailer park.
Denison and his wife, Deliann, were inside their mobile home, just across from the home of their neighbor, Debra Knuth, when they heard a loud noise.
I came running out in my bare feet, Deliann said. I saw the front of the trailer blow right off. That was just minutes before the trailer was engulfed by fire and destroyed.
With a number of guardian angels coming to her rescue, Knuth was recovering in a burn unit at a Pittsburgh hospital Wednesday, family and friends were helping to clean up her property, and local emergency officials were working to determine a cause for the devastating event.
In the few minutes between the explosion and the blaze, two nearby neighbors, 18-year-old Jeffrey Peters Jr. and 28-year-old Mike Shetler, made it into Knuths mobile home just in time. After calling the womans name, Peters found Knuth in her bed yelling for help. Peters and Shetler made their way through the wreckage, pulled her out of bed and helped her outside.
Shetler then carried her to the nearby home of Carol Owens, who had previously been a nurse at Great Lakes Home Healthcare in Erie. Owens said she took Knuth into her shower, where she treated her with cold towels to prevent the burns from going deeper.
It woke us up out of a dead sleep when it happened, Owens said. At first we thought it was a transformer that blew up and then we saw it was her trailer, so I ran over there to see what I could do. Im glad I could help. Shes a really nice lady and tries to help people out.
Owens suggested that the problem may have stemmed from an oven that Knuth had been cleaning and painting earlier Tuesday.
Shetler was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Meadville Central Fire Department, Meadville Volunteer Fire Department and Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department, along with ambulance crews, arrived at 111 Asbury Manor East at 9:45 a.m. to extinguish the blaze and evacuate nearby trailers. One of two Asbury trailer parks in the citys Fifth Ward, Asbury East has dozens of occupied mobile homes.
The fire, according to Meadville Fire Chief Larndo (Tunie) Hedrick, has been classified as accidental. He said that it is highly likely that a propane gas leak is the cause of the fire, and when it found an ignition source, it exploded.