Rico, CO – A Rico resident died after the house she was living in exploded Monday evening.
The body of Lisa Salliby, 42, was found 30 feet from the explosion site at 340 North Piedmont St., according to the Dolores County Sheriffs Office.
The incident is still under investigation, Sheriff Jeffrey Martin explained, but authorities suspect a gas leak in the basement was the cause based on observations at the scene of the explosion.
What ignited the suspected propane leak is still unknown.
Martin said that the explosion shook the town. Debris was found as far away as Highway 145 and minor damage to neighboring houses was reported. The house was completely demolished, Martin said.
An extensive search ensued to recover Sallibys body.
Martin said the authorities were on-site for several hours and werent able to get back home until 3 a.m. due to weather conditions and an unrelated incident.
Salliby lived with close friend Tara Barnett and her daughter.
Barnett is the Montessori director of programming and admissions at the Telluride Mountain School.
Karen Walker, Head of School, explained that the Tara Barnett Relief Fund has been established at Alpine Bank. Anyone interested in making donations can go to the bank or drop-off monetary contributions at the schools front desk.
Shes asked to be given her privacy (right now), Walker said.
Walker explained that the school and community are more than willing to help Barnett, but only when the time is right.
Everybodys anxious to be helping her right now, she said.
She explained that people have offered material donations like furniture as well as temporary housing in the wake of the incident.
In a statement to school employees obtained by the Daily Planet, Walker stressed the importance of Barnetts privacy after such a tremendous loss.
As you can imagine, Tara is working through a lot, Walker said.
The statement explains that the family is dealing with the incident internally first.
Thank you all for your patience while Tara gets a little more resolution on the situation, Walker said. I know that we all feel anxious to help out, but our first response is to respect the familys privacy while they work through their initial stages of loss and figure out their first steps to recovering their lives.
Soon we will all work together to provide care and support for Tara and her family.
Walker said Barnett will be given all the time she needs.
(Barnett) is an important part of our community, she said.
Support for the Rico community spread through social media Monday night and Tuesday. The hashtag #prayersforrico was shared by several area residents.
Resident Jereb Carter posted on Facebook that heavy snowfall is affecting houses ventilation systems, which can create a deadly situation.
Many residents are in need of plows and snow clearing, Carter explained. Several people offered their services in formation of a shovel brigade.
Authorities stressed homeowners keep on eye on heating systems, including propane lines, and recommended carbon monoxide detectors for preventative measures.
Ertel Funeral Home in Cortez is handling Sallibys arrangements.