Powell, ID – Cause is believed accidental for a propane explosion resulting in a fire that destroyed an Idaho Fish and Game (IFG) officer residence in Powell Saturday evening, March 16.
Idaho State Police Trooper Dave Wesche, standing on the residence’s front porch at the time, received minor injuries in the incident and was transported to Missoula for treatment. The Idaho State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the incident.
An explosion was reported at 5:15 p.m. at the IFG residence in Powell, located at milepost 162 on U.S. Highway 12. ISP contacted the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office, which initially dispatched Lowell QRU, Kooskia fire department and ambulance, along with Life Flight. Due to the distance involved, these agencies were subsequently stood down and Missoula emergency services were dispatched.
According to IFG, the agency-owned residence had a propane system, and the explosion occurred during the final move out of belongings by the outgoing occupant, Pat Hilton, a recently retired IFG conservation officer. According to Jennifer Bruns, IFG regional communications manager, Hilton had moved a portion of his belongings but due to the snow was not able to get them all out in one move. Conditions allowed for him to go in Saturday and he went with a second unidentified officer, and they were joined by Wesche. They were in the process of removing the belongings when the explosion occurred.
Obviously, it was some sort of gas leak, but we don’t know exactly what it was caused from, Bruns said.
The single-story structure was destroyed in the fire, along with the Hilton’s remaining belongings inside. IFG owned the residence, which was built in 2007. Meanwhile, IFG is working on a housing alternative for the IFG conservation officer, who was tentatively to move in with his family this week.
The Missoula Rural Fire Department was dispatched to the incident. MRFD was contacted but did not return a Free Press call for comment.
We’re just glad everyone is OK, Bruns said. It could have been a different story, for sure.