Campton, NH- Paula Tracy, Union Leader Staff – With a “boom” that rattled windows miles away, a farmhouse that stood for more than two centuries was leveled Monday night.
Three, 250-pound propane tanks on the side of the house were being eyed as the possible source of the explosion and fire that destroyed the home of Jules and Janet Doner at 148 Page Road.The Doners were at their daughter’s home in Chichester when the explosion occurred about 8 p.m., officials said.
No one was injured in the two-alarm fire that ensued. The Doners’ two cats, however, are missing.
Antiques and paintings, and intact windows were blown more than 80 feet by the blast, which left only a 19th century brick, center chimney on the remote property.
Fire Chief David Tobine, who lives about a mile from the house, said his windows shook at the sound of the blast, which echoed through the mountains near Perch Pond as a steady rain fell. More than 50 firefighters from 10 surrounding communities worked all night Monday and some were still at the scene yesterday dealing with the smoldering debris.
Police Chief Chris Warn said the state Fire Marshal’s Office had been called in and both he and Tobine said a possible cause is a propane leak. Tobine, who was first on the scene, said one of the tanks was releasing propane upon his arrival.
Doner, a retired government employee, and his wife had renovated what was known as the Old Page Place and were antique collectors. The two-and-a-half story, wood-framed structure was destroyed in the blast, but Tobine said the rain helped reduce spread of the burning debris to a large barn on the property.
Tobine estimated the loss at least $250,000 for the building, not including contents, and said there were several vehicles in the garage that were also destroyed. An antique car outside the house was not destroyed.
The chief pointed to 10 by 10 foot sections of wall that were not burned, but just blown out by the blast.
Tobine said at first, there was concern that there were people in the house, and police used registrations to discover that one of the vehicles at the home was missing. A call was made and the Doners were safely located at the home of their daughter.