An explosion that destroyed a 200-year-old Bethel Twp. farm house and was heard miles away was likely caused by a propane leak, fire investigators said.
Firefighters responded to reports of an explosion at a home in the 7800 block of Lower Valley Pike about 7 p.m. Thursday. They found the home demolished, Bethel Twp. Fire Chief Jacob King said.
“It was almost like I was back in a war zone,” said King, who recently spent a year working in Afghanistan and also serves as the fire chief at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. “It looks like a house got a bomb dropped on it just because of the sheer amount of explosion.”
Debris was scattered across the property on Friday morning. Insulation and window frames were stuck in the trees, a refrigerator was missing its door, a stove was smashed and a stack of encyclopedias had it pages blown out.
The home’s only resident wasn’t home at the time, King said. The man was on his way home from work in Cincinnati.
“We all breathed a huge sigh of relief,” when firefighters learned no one was home, King said.
The man’s family was also relieved to hear he was safe.
“They were extremely ecstatic that he wasn’t home,” King said.
Debris was found more than 130 feet from the farm house, he said, and the cause of the explosion remains under investigation.
“We are seeing consistent patterns with this explosion as with a propane leak explosion,” he said “The home is fed by propane.”
Two men who were nearby when the explosion happened told the Springfield News-Sun that they arrived on scene to find a propane tank hissing. The men, Lance Knisley and John Augenstein, said they turned the tank off.
“Maybe the propane filled the entire basement and made it to the first floor,” King said. “… It may have found an ignition source on the first floor.”
There’s likely nothing suspicious about the explosion, he said.
“We feel that there is no ill will here,” he said.
Neighbors who heard the blast thought it was a bomb going off.
“All of the sudden I just heard a big boom,” Anthony Joseph said.
He had just pulled into the driveway of his home about a mile from where the explosion happened.
“I literally felt it come through the car, come through my bones, I could feel it like in my inner ear,” Joseph said. “It was huge.”
He called 9-1-1 to report the boom to police but wasn’t sure what had happened.
“We couldn’t really see anything,” he said. “It was scary.”
The explosion made him feel uneasy, Joseph said, because his home is heated with propane, as are many homes in Clark County.
“On this street, we all use propane,” he said.
His family now plans to purchase a propane monitor for their home, Joseph said. Chief King said that’s a good idea because propane can lose its odor if it sits in the tank too long.
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