Blast Destroys W.Va. Home

Fire Officials: Propane Leak Likely Cause Of Explosion At Residence, Observatory

Posted: March 25, 2014

Firefighters mop up at the scene of an explosion in Hardy County, W.Va., Monday morning. The blast, which fire officials say was likely caused by a propane leak, destroyed a mountaintop home and observatory. Neighbors say the owner had a propane-fueled stove installed at the home last week. (Photos by Nikki Fox / DN-R)
Firefighters mop up at the scene of an explosion in Hardy County, W.Va., Monday morning. The blast, which fire officials say was likely caused by a propane leak, destroyed a mountaintop home and observatory. Neighbors say the owner had a propane-fueled stove installed at the home last week.

MATHIAS, W.Va. — A roughly 800-square-foot home and observatory just outside Mathias, W.Va., in Hardy County exploded Monday morning, destroying the structure. No one was home at the time and no injuries were reported.

Ed and Cathy Abel live just yards away from the home, which is owned by Dave Reese of Fairfax Station, Va.

“We heard a big explosion,” said Cathy Abel. “We felt it. Our neighbors said it shook things in the house.”

Reese could not be reached for comment.

Shortly before 9 a.m., firefighters from the Mathias-Baker Fire Department and the Moorefield Volunteer Fire Company responded to 42 Majestic Lane in the Mountain Meadows community off Howards Lick Road.

Mathias-Baker Fire Chief Craig Strawderman said the house was already a complete loss upon arrival.

“The four walls were blown out and the other debris that was left inside was on fire,” said Strawderman.

Windows from the home, which was just erected last year, were scattered about 100 to 200 yards away from the home. The house consisted of a small living area, with the observatory making up the bulk of the structure.

He said the preliminary cause of the blast was a propane leak.

The Abels said the owner had a propane-fueled stove installed on Friday.

Neighbors say there were expensive, high-tech telescopes inside the observatory, but a damage estimate is currently unavailable.

The Abels said they are glad the owner was not at home and no one was hurt.

“I’m very grateful,” said Cathy Abel, adding that the homeowner was planning on building a log cabin on the property this summer.

Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or pdelea@dnronline.com



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