Barnum, IA – Deb Colby is very lucky.
Wednesday afternoon – while outside taking care of a pair of miniature horses on her small farm at 1167 180th St. north of Barnum – her house exploded.
“I was ready to pick up a hose then all of a sudden kaboom,” a visibly shaken Colby said.
The explosion tore siding and insulation off the building, scattering it through the yard and leaving a chunk, with window shutter still attached, in the branches of a tree.
Several windows were broken out and the smell of burnt plastic lingered in the yard afterward.
“Stuff started flying off the house,” she said.
Colby is sure that had she been inside the house, the result would have been more than property damage.
“I’d be dead,” she said. “God was looking out for me.”
Colby said most of the contents of her home were damaged to some extent in the explosion, several pet birds that were inside at the time survived, apparently none the worse for wear.
That she was outside instead of in her office where the worst damage occurred was a stroke of luck as well. She explained that she was considering going inside to do some work on her computer when the explosion occurred.
Barnum Assistant Fire Chief William Busse said he believed it was a propane explosion, but was not sure which appliance had caused the problem or what the source of ignition might have been. Crews were going to remain at the scene to make sure no fires were smoldering. They had shut off the propane at the tank as well.
Colby explained to fire crews that she had been smelling propane fumes in the house since Tuesday evening and had attempted to vent them herself with a window fan.
The recommended procedure is to get out of the home and call 911.