Nevada, OH – Monday started out as a normal morning, Rob Barry recalls. He got up at 5:30 a.m. and was getting dressed. His wife was in the kitchen.
“About 6:15, she was making the coffee, and next thing I know, BOOM!” Barry said Monday evening.
It was a propane explosion, said Troy Johnson, chief of Wyandot East Fire and Rescue, who was first to arrive at the scene after the family called 911.
“Completely destroyed the house,” Johnson said. “Blew the back kitchen off of it, knocked it off its foundation, blew the side walls all out.”
The explosion happened in the basement, came up the stairway and went through the whole house, he said.
The three family members who were home at the time escaped with some minor injuries.
“I’ve been doing this for 32 years; they’re the luckiest people I’ve seen,” Johnson said. “I told them to go to church and then buy lottery tickets. Because it should have took everybody right out of the house.”
Rob’s wife, Kari, had a small laceration on her leg and was treated at the scene by Wyandot East EMS, Johnson said.
“I mean, she was in the kitchen, and the kitchen’s gone,” he said. “I can’t believe it.”
Rob Barry said he had a small scratch, too. Their 15-year old daughter escaped without injury.
“It was kind of a mad panic out,” Rob Barry said. “I wanted to make sure everyone was all right; got them out of the house and we got the two dogs out of the house.”
The family’s other two children had stayed with their grandparents the night before, Rob Barry said.
“They wanted to go home with Grandma and Grandpa,” he said. “Probably a good thing.”
Johnson said his department was dispatched to the home at 546 Spore Brandywine Road at 6:14 a.m.
“We were called for an unknown explosion,” he said. “Upon arrival, there was no visible flames some smoldering in the roof line of the kitchen, or what was left of the kitchen. That was quickly extinguished.”
The explosion blew the front windows out of the house, and it blew the shades 80 or 90 feet out into the yard, he said.
“The only thing I can say that’s good is that the fire blew itself out when it exploded, so it never got a start,” Johnson said. “So they do have 95% or their contents left, you know. Had it been a fire, they would have lost all of their belongings. I’m sure there’s a lot of stuff in the house that’s ruined, but the important stuff is still there. You’re still going to have the stuff that means something.”
Johnson said the cause of the explosion remains under investigation. An insurance investigator is expected at the scene on Tuesday.
“It was a propane leak in the basement,” Johnson said. “Probably at the furnace, because the only thing in the house that ran on propane was the furnace. Now where it got its ignition source, we’re not really sure. But it definitely started at the furnace area because that’s the only place where propane was ran, and the furnace pipes were actually sucked in, which means that’s where the explosion happened.
“If you’d seen the house thank God it was a legacy construction, which means it was an older house, something from the ’30s or ’40s, built out of native timber. If that would have been a newer construction house, it probably would have leveled it. But it actually… took it off the foundation.”
Despite the extensive damage, from the curb, the house looked OK at first, Johnson said. The Crawford County Sheriff’s deputy dispatched to the scene drove right past it at first.
“I was first on scene, you know, and they were standing outside in the yard, and I didn’t see any smoke showing,” he said. “I was thinking ‘Aw, this is gonna be nothing.’ I looked and the front windows were blown out and as I walked around back where they were standing, the house is just destroyed. It was amazing.”
The Holmes Township Volunteer Fire Department assisted at the scene.
For now, the Barrys are staying at the scene. Rob Barry said his father brought his RV over.
“We’re just going to stay right here and hope for the best,” he said. “House is replaceable; people are not.”
He and his wife do have one definite plan for Tuesday morning, he said:
“I kind of joked with her today, I said you’re not making coffee in the morning.”