Elderton, PA – By Michael Miller, LEADER TIMES
Ann Petras of Elderton noticed a lighter on the kitchen table she hadn’t seen before and flicked it to see if it worked. The next thing she knew, her mobile home exploded, sending her and her 16-year-old daughter Aleesha to Mercy Hospital to be treated for burns they received in the explosion, according to Petras’ mother, Lynne Ramstad.
“She flipped to see if it worked,” Ramstad said. “That’s when the fire started.”
Shortly after the fire began, the home exploded, around 6 a.m. yesterday, according to State Police Fire Marshal Tpr. Jeff Crede.
“We’ve looked at the scene and what our best guess right now is that it’s some type of propane explosion,” he said of the explosion, which occurred in a trailer park along Route 422.
Crede confirmed that there appeared to be some type of fire in the kitchen area.
“There seems to be a bit of a flash fire in the kitchen area at the floor level,” he said.
He could not say for certain whether there was a propane leak inside the house, or whether the explosion was related to the installation of new propane tanks at the home a few days ago.
The force of the explosion leveled the mobile and flung debris from 75 to 200 feet away from the home, and 25 feet into the air.
Volunteer firefighters from Elderton and family members spent much of the day yesterday looking through the remains of the home for salvageable items.
Some men nearby heard the explosion and rushed over to help, Crede said.
Neighbors also assisted in pulling Petras out from under debris in the kitchen area of the home. Aleesha crawled out from debris on the other end of the trailer.
“They were out filling up a truck with gas, they heard the explosion, saw the fireball, and then heard people screaming,” Crede said of the men, who were a few hundred feet from the explosion.
Ramstad, said her daughter and granddaughter had suffered second-degree burns on about 20 percent of their bodies, but otherwise were “doing fine.”
“They’re expected to be out of the hospital if everything goes ok, in two or three days,” she said.