Marlboro Twp, OH – Fire and police investigators suspect a propane leak may be the cause of an explosion that destroyed a Marlboro Township home and seriously injured its two residents Sunday night.
Lloyd Reynolds, 33, and his wife, Stephanie Reynolds, 35, were flown by rescue helicopter to the burn unit at Akron Children’s Hospital, where they were in stable condition Monday, a hospital spokesman said.
Township Fire Chief Gary Haines said firefighters were called to the home at 13131 Etter Road N.E. at 8:16 p.m., when a neighbor reported the explosion.
“As neighbors were running towards the house, they saw him carrying her out,” Haines said.
Neighbor Larry Penix was eating leftover Thanksgiving turkey and ham when his house shook from the explosion.
“It was deafening,” he said. “It blew out the south wall of the house, the first explosion, and things kept exploding in the house. It was totally engulfed in about 15 minutes. It was unbelievable.”
Penix, who lives across the street from the Reynolds home, said he and his brother-in-law saw the couple come outside and brought them over to his house and covered them with blankets until help arrived.
“They were screaming and yelling. They wanted to go back in for the animals,” he said. Penix said the couple had several pet cats. “They were burned and cut. It was ugly.”
He said the Reynoldses appeared to be badly injured, but they were able to talk when they first came out of the house. “I hear they are going to make it, but that’s all I’ve heard,” he said.
Penix said he was told by rescue workers that the explosion could be heard as far as a mile or two away.
Haines said the cause of the explosion remains under investigation, with Marlboro police assisting on the case. The fire, was under control in about half an hour, he said.
“We think it was a total accident. We can’t say for sure, but there’s nothing suspicious about it at all,” Haines said.
The force of the explosion blew the home apart. The back wall of the house landed 38 feet behind the foundation in the back yard; the first floor was in the basement, he said. “It had to be a build-up of a flammable vapor somewhere,” Haines said.
Marlboro Police Chief Ron Devies said the home had oil heat but a propane water heater. “Early indications are there is no foul play, that this was a very tragic accident. The indications that we have right now is that propane played a part in this,” he said.
The home is owned by Dianne Reynolds, a relative of Lloyd Reynolds, Haines said. The structure and its contents were a total loss, he added. The Stark County auditor’s Web site lists the value of the home at $51,900, and the property it sits on at $41,700, for a total appraised value of $93,600.
Haines said the township received assistance from fire departments in neighboring Hartville and Randolph Township.