Cairo, NY – A one-story Cairo house was no match for a 100-gallon exploding propane tank.
Firefighters say the man living there would be among the ashes, if it wasn’t for two brave neighbors.
Firefighters say neighbors Mike Flood and John Pelland pulled the man out of the burning bungalow as he was screaming for help. The 62-year-old was flown to Westchester Medical Center. Police say he’s in critical condition with burns on 80 to 90 percent of his body.
“If he had been left in their any longer, he would have obviously perished,” said Eric Hepperle, Cairo Fire District Engineer.
Neighbors say he’d just moved in to the Bross Road residence a few months ago. Firefighters say he was fiddling with the propane.
“The subject was possibly working on the unit or trying to re-light it,” said Hepperle.
That’s when the tank exploded. Neighbors all around say they thought a bomb had gone off. Right next door, pictures flew off the walls as flames shot into the Greene County sky. A firefighter hunter two miles away even said he heard the blast from his tree stand.
Cairo Fire says they were there within minutes of the 911 call, but they couldn’t save what was left of the home. The fire district’s engineer says this was a rare catastrophe.
“Maybe the second time in 20 years I’ve seen something like this,” said Hepperle.
The fire chief told us he wants to honor the two men for running straight into the fire, saving a life, from a blaze that turned a house into a smoking heap of ash.
The man’s name has not been released yet.
Police believe the explosion was sparked when the man tried to light the propane heater’s pilot light.