A roughly 800-square-foot home and observatory just outside Mathias, W.Va, in Hardy County exploded this morning, destroying the structure.
Ed and Cathy Abel live just yards away from the home, which is owned by Dave Reese, of Fairfax Station.
"We heard a big explosion," said Cathy Abel. "We felt it. Our neighbors said it shook things in the house."
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 destroyed 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.
He said the preliminary cause of the fire is 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 the home.
"I'm very grateful," said Cathy Abel.
Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or firstname.lastname@example.org