Portsmouth,VA- Carolyn Pence fights to stay strong. She surveys the damage of what was once her home, as her 78 year old husband Raymond fights to recover from 2nd degree burns.
“It’s hard when you know your husband is hurt.”
Raymond’s grand-daughter Erika Bartz says, “Anytime you have more than 1st degree burns it’s a fifty-fifty chance. If he gets through these next two or three days then he should be ok.”
Ray Pence opened a refrigerator Thursday night. Immediately, the trailer exploded. Investigators say a leak in a propane gas tank caused it. Ray and Carolyn thought they smelled gas earlier Thursday afternoon. They even went and checked the propane tank connected to the trailer they’d been staying in on the property. They didn’t find any problems with it. It was hours later when Ray went into the trailer several feet away to get something from the refrigerator.
Evelyn Griffith lives across Dog Town Lane from the Pence’s. She heard the explosion and ran outside. “To get out of the trailer he broke the window, so he had bad cuts on his hands. He was burnt. He looked pretty bad,” she says.
Griffith’s husband rushed across the road, through the debris to Raymond Pence.
Gary Griffith says, “We patted the fire out from him. He was on fire. It looked like it burned his shirt off.”
Hours after Pence was rushed to the hospital, and firefighters put out several small fires, the collapsed trailer burst into flames. A red glow filled the Gloucester sky. Now concern fills the hearts of those willing to do whatever they can for their neighbors. Walter Becknell lives on the lane. He and another friend picked up hoses from the Pence’s yard. “This is senior citizen lane. We could all be in a retirement home. But we just keep on fighting for each other,” Becknell joked.
Carolyn Pence says, “Wonderful neighbors. Wonderful. You couldn’t ask for better neighbors.”
Neighbors helped salvage the few items that they were able to, for the Pence’s. The couple was selling the trailer before the explosion. They’d just moved into a camper behind it. When Mrs. Pence came to pick up their valuables and medicines, she said she’d head back to the hospital in Richmond. Relatives from around the country are coming in to be with her and her husband.