MO- By Leah Thorsen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

An explosion caused by a gas leak blew out the walls of a house here early this morning, dropping the roof to the foundation and injuring the man inside, Fire Chief Jim Twyman said.

The fire in the 1300 block of Gladys Street started when the man inside, Lloyd Linker, used a gas burner on his stove to light a cigarette about 5:30 a.m.

Linker, who is believed to be in his early 70s, was taken by medical helicopter to a St. Louis-area hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threateneing, Twyman said.

By mid-morning, the fire was still smoldering and the house was reduced to a pile of debris next to a burned-out car.

The explosion shook John and Mary DeLuca’s house across the street. John DeLuca helped pull Linker from a window, Mary DeLuca said.

She also said that Linker had a cut on his forehead and left hand, as well as some burns, but that he was speaking clearly.

After the explosion and fire, Twyman said neighbors told him they had smelled gas for a couple of days, but had not reported the smell to authorities.