Huntingdon Station, NY – Newsday, By Sylvia Adcock and Ann Givens
An explosion in an unoccupied house in Huntington Station rocked a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood Thursday morning.
The blast sent aluminum siding into Tina Corcoran’s backyard next door. “It blew the doors off my daughter’s china cabinet,” she said. “I was in the bathroom getting ready for work. I screamed for the kids.”
Suffolk police said propane that had been leaking from the kitchen stove top at 5 Sapphire Place ignited at about 7 a.m., shattering all the windows and knocking the house off its foundation. No one was living in the house, which was being renovated, said Mark Sciallo, assistant chief of the Huntington Manor Fire Department.
The Suffolk Arson Squad is investigating the explosion. The house, just south of Jericho Turnpike, had recently been sold and the new owners had not yet moved in, neighbors said. The owners, who police identified as John Ronan and Lisa Longabardi, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The house had a propane-powered stove in the kitchen, and a propane fireplace, said Corcoran, whose backyard is adjacent to 5 Sapphire Lane. Two propane tanks, one about 4 feet high and one the size to power a backyard grill, were normally kept outside the back door of the house, Corcoran said.
One side of the 20-year-old house had caved in, with the roof at an angle almost on the ground. Bits of pink insulation from the walls littered the yard. The other side of the house appeared mainly intact, except for the brick chimney that had detached from the side of the house and was leaning against the garage.
Marianne Hocknell was asleep in her house across the street when it happened. “I actually fell out of bed,” she said.
Her husband, a volunteer firefighter with the Huntington Manor Fire Department, thought a helicopter had crashed. He ran across the street and went into the house to make sure it wasn’t occupied.
Neighbors said the house had been sold a couple of months ago, going for more than $500,000. The previous owners had lived there about a year. The new owners had come in on the weekends to work in the yard but had not yet moved in, neighbors said.