Traverse City, MI – TRAVERSE CITY — An 86-year-old summer resident suffered severe burns in a house fire, apparently after a propane explosion.

Witnesses told investigators that Doyle Smith, of Huntington, Ind., was attempting to light a propane water heater at around 1 p.m. Friday when there was an explosion, Grand Traverse Metro Fire Chief Patrick Parker said.

Smith and his wife, Elizabeth, were at the home they own on Spider Lake in East Bay Township when the explosion occurred. Elizabeth Smith was not injured but she was taken to Munson Medical Center to be checked out, Parker said.

He said Doyle Smith was flown Friday evening to a burn unit at a hospital in Fort Wayne, Ind., to be closer to his home. The East Bay Township house, at 405 Poplar Lane, was ablaze when firefighters arrived but the fire was soon under control.

“We kind of had two problems here, we had patients and the fire,” Parker said. While it appeared that a propane explosion caused the fire, Parker said the cause of the fire remained under investigation.