Wichita, KS – Karrie Wood was taking a midday nap on the sofa Thursday when her world blew up around her.
The next thing she knew, she was lying under the debris of what had been the walls and roof of her mobile home, while her brother-in-law, Scott Seagraves, worked frantically to pull her from the rubble.
“I didn’t know what to think,” said Wood, speaking from her hospital bed at Via Christi Regional Medical Center-St. Francis Campus. “All I can remember is my brother-in-law being there and me saying, ‘Get me out!’ “
He succeeded — just in time. Moments after the pair fled the trailer, it burst into flames and burned down to a twisted pile of melted aluminum, charred two-by-fours and mangled appliances.
The exact cause of the blast was still under investigation late Thursday.
But officials suspect that it was either a propane leak or air that got in the supply lines, said Carl Cox, Sedgwick County fire division chief.
Wood had run out of propane, and a tank in the yard had been refilled Thursday morning, he said.
When a propane tank runs dry, the gas pressure drops, and air can flow back into the lines, causing an explosion hazard, he said.
“That’s something you don’t want to happen,” he said. “You don’t want to ever let it run completely out.”
Wood was taken off the critical list when doctors determined that she had not suffered life-threatening smoke or flame inhalation.
But as of late Thursday, she said she was still in a lot of pain.
“Here I am, my face is burned up, my hands are all burned,” she said.
All her furnishings, clothes and Christmas presents for her nieces and nephews were lost in the blast or the fire, she said.
The whereabouts of her beloved pets, two dogs and six cats, were unknown late Thursday.
“They’re like her babies — my sister-in-law never had children,” Seagraves said of Wood.
He said family members are hoping the pets had simply run away from the commotion and hadn’t been trapped in the fire.
Still, Wood, 35, said she felt fortunate to have survived.
“If it wasn’t for my brother-in-law, I wouldn’t have got out,” she said.
Seagraves and his wife, Jennifer, live next door to Wood in the secluded mobile home park, on 137th Street East and south of 31st Street South.
He said the landlady, who Seagraves identified as Dee Troutman, was under the mobile home working to restart the propane system when it blew up.
Seagraves, who helped Troutman out from under the mobile home after the blast, said she did not appear to have suffered any serious injuries.
Troutman could not be reached for comment. A message left on the mobile home park’s answering machine was not returned, and there was no answer at a cell phone number given in the machine’s message.
The blast also damaged the Seagraves’ mobile home, blowing out windows and some of the skirting. The center pane of their glass storm door was blown into the living room.
But Seagraves said the disaster could have been deadly for both Wood and Troutman if he and his wife hadn’t been running late in getting started on a Christmas shopping outing.
“We were going to be going to Wal-Mart,” Seagraves said. “Oh, God, they’d both have died, I guarantee you.”
Wood’s mother, Juanita Vick, wept as she surveyed the damage and prepared to go visit her daughter in the hospital.
“It’s a terrible thing to have happen, especially right before the holidays,” she said. “I hope nobody else has to go through this.”