Palermo, NY – PALERMO, N.Y. — Investigators believe a propane malfunction caused an explosion Thursday night that killed a 57-year-old man and destroyed his family’s home.

David Lacey Sr. was killed in the blast in Palermo, 25 miles northwest of Syracuse. People a half-mile away felt the blast. Lacey’s dog, a Shetland sheepdog named Pebbles, also perished.

The house was built on a concrete pad with a crawl space. Snow was piled up to 5 feet high around the structure.

“What made this different was the snow pack,” said Oswego County Fire Coordinator John Hinds told the Post-Standard of Syracuse in Saturday’s editions. “We think the expansion couldn’t happen laterally, so all the force went up.”

The blast tore the house and its contents to pieces. Scraps of plywood, carpet, furniture, clothing, toys and household items were strewn about the wooded grounds.

A 500-gallon propane tank behind the home’s garage was the sole source of fuel to heat the home, Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd said. The garage and fuel tank remained intact after the explosion.

Investigators are studying the tank’s connections to the house, which may have been damaged by snow or ice from the home’s roof, Todd said