Mt. Pleasant, UT –
By John Hales For the Deseret Morning News
Published: February 12, 2008
MT. PLEASANT, Sanpete County A Sanpete County couple is in serious condition after their mountain home exploded early Tuesday.
Police say they are lucky to be alive.
“It was remarkable that they survived this,” Sanpete County Sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Peterson said at the scene of what had been the home of Bud and Karen Jensen.
The home was in the Whispering Pines subdivision, located in the mountains about 4 miles east of Mt. Pleasant.
On Tuesday, instead of a home, there was only a crater and debris scattered for 50 yards or more.
At about 5:30 a.m., the home blew apart from the inside, a propane-gas leak apparently having ignited in the double-wide modular home.
“I thought a meteor hit,” said Patrick Naughton, the closest neighbor to the Jensens who lives about 200 yards away. “The fireball came up, and when it dissipated there was very little fire.”
Naughton found the couple near the home, apparently blown out of their bed and through the roof.
“It just flopped them right out of the house right into the snow,” he said.
They were alive, conscious and speaking in normal tones.
“It was amazing to find them in that condition after the blast,” he said.
He said he asked if the were burned and they said yes.
He said he also asked them if they could move to put their burned sides against the snow. Again, they said yes, and did so.
Naughton said he could see the steam rising from their bodies.
He and other neighbors pulled Karen Jensen to the safety of the car in couple’s driveway.
They attempted to pull Bud Jensen there as well, but as they went to do so, Naughton said, “The power-line mast fell over and across the car, after (Karen) was in it.
“We didn’t dare take her out of the car because the power line was still hot. It was over there sparking and banging.”
Emergency-rescue crews arrived within about 20 minutes, which witnesses said was a remarkable response time due to the wintery conditions of the mountain roads.
They removed the electric pole from the car, and transported Karen and Bud Jensen to Sanpete Valley Hospital. The couple was later taken to University Hospital via AirMed helicopter.
The explosion’s ignition is still under investigation, but officials think the spark could have come from a wood-burning stove, a water heater or the home’s furnace. The State Fire Marshal’s Office is assisting in the investigation.
Naughton said the leak may have been happening for some time, since the couple had complained of sewer-like smells. Gas may have reached ignitable concentrations, he said, after snow shoveled from the roof in recent days possibly blocked vents in the home’s foundation.
The subdivision where the home is located is an area too remote to receive municipal utility services, including natural gas. Such homes rely on alternate sources of power and heat, such as propane.
The couple had resided in the Sanpete Valley for at least 10 years, but had only moved to their Whispering Pines home within the last two months.