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Soldotna home explosion injures 2

Posted: January 27, 2012 - 1:08am

Two residents were injured in an explosion inside a Soldotna home Thursday afternoon at 336 West Riverview Ave.

Central Emergency Services investigators haven’t pinned down the cause of the fire.

The small single-story home sat slumped, windows shattered in the total loss incident. A black SUV sat close to house badly damaged as well.

The home owner and a friend were inside the home when the explosion occurred. Both men have been medevaced to Seattle for head and hand burns. One of the men inhaled hot gas and was having difficulty breathing, CES official Brad Nelson said.

Carmen Littrell sat next door when the violent shock shook her entire house.

Troy Gehring, who was visiting Littrell, struggled to describe the piercing bang.

“It sounded like somebody ... It sounded like a bomb,” he said.

Littrell and Gehring ran outside and discovered a scene of destruction.

When CES officials arrived there were two separate fires; an interior fire in the attic and roof of the home and an exposed gas line in the driveway of the property, Nelson said.

“When the explosion happened it literally blew the gas meter apart, and it was up on top of the roof,” he said. “So you have the main (gas) line completely open, leaking and burning.”

Frank Hopper, who owns the house, escaped the damage after the explosion. Gehring said he removed Hopper’s coat because Hopper thought he was on fire.

Hopper then entered a passing vehicle that took him to Central Peninsula Hospital, Gehring said.

About 30 seconds later, a second male exited the burning home, he said.

“We were all amazed,” he said. “He moved his vehicle, tried to get some of his belongings outside of the house and decided he wanted to go to the hospital. He was climbing into his driver seat, and I said no, no, no. I’ll drive you.”

There was no hair on either of the occupant’s heads, witnesses said.

CES responders extinguished the gas line fire after ENSTAR Natural Gas Company officials used an excavator to expose the main line across the street, cutting the source.

Officials roped off the home. CES or ENSTAR, or both, will manage the property until the investigation is over.

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