Jackson, LA- A woman suffered serious burns Tuesday morning when an explosion and fire destroyed the Church Street home she had purchased earlier this year.
An accumulation of natural gas is suspected as the cause of the explosion that injured Connie McMillin, 59, who recently moved to Jackson from California, but the investigation is continuing.
Jackson Assistant Fire Chief Richard Dudley said the state Fire Marshals Office has been asked to assist in the investigation.
McMillins relatives said she was being treated Tuesday at Baton Rouge General Medical Centers Burn Unit for burns to her face, hands and arms.
McMillin was able to escape through the back door of her house with her two dogs, crossing the collapsed roof of her back porch to escape the wreckage.
She was in a daze out there, Dudley said.
While much of the home was flattened in the 7:45 a.m. explosion, McMillin was in the kitchen, an area where she was not trapped by the falling roof.
That kitchen was one of the few places she could have been and still survive, said Sue Ellen Longman, a friend of the family.
The home was directly behind two buildings on Jacksons main street, the towns fire station and a commercial building housing a barbershop and a video rental store.
The force of the blast broke window panes in the fire station and moved the frame of an entire window about 2 inches, Dudley said.
The other buildings back door was blown off its hinges, and a window was broken on the neighboring Norsworthy House, built in 1845.
Until McMillin purchased the brick-veneer building for her residence in a sale recorded in June, the home had been used as the local Catholic churchs social hall.
Dudley said a town employee read the gas meter Thursday but found that no gas had been used. A new gas appliance may have been installed on Monday, however.
Thats what we were told, he said.
Dudley said firefighters worked about 45 minutes to bring the blaze under control.
It was hard to put out, because it was all under that roof, Dudley said.
In addition to the two dogs, which were being treated by a veterinarian for burns, McMillin had five cats and three birds in the home.
Members of an animal welfare group recovered two of the birds soon after the fire was extinguished and were trying to coax the third to come out from under the collapsed porch roof.
Neighbors said they believe the cats fled from the wreckage.
One of the birds was in a cage that had been crushed by falling bricks, Bob Underwood said.
When I picked up the bricks, the bird hopped out, Underwood said.