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Clothes dryer blamed for house explosion

April 23, 1999|By ANDREA ROWLAND

ROHRERSVILLE - An electric clothes dryer was the most probable ignition source for an explosion that leveled a Rohrersville home Thursday evening, according to Maryland state fire marshals.

Three people were hurt in the 2213 Kaetzel Road explosion, which sparked a fire and hurled debris hundreds of feet, according to fire officials.

Homeowners George Carey, 62, and his wife, Jane, who is in her mid-50s, were listed in serious condition on Friday night at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., hospital officials said.

"They're both broken from the hips down," said Carey's son, George Carey Jr., of Shenandoah Junction, W.Va.

The Careys' 5-year-old grandson was treated at Washington County Hospital and released, hospital officials said Friday morning.

The investigation is continuing, fire officials said.

Fire investigators determined that a leaking propane gas line caused the house to fill with gas until the dryer triggered the explosion, according to fire officials.

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"The walls were kicked out, indicative of a fuel-air explosion," Fire Marshal Jim Woods said.

While still at the refinery, propane gas is injected with an odor similar to that of rotten eggs to aid in detection of leaks, said Mike Mosley, district manager for Columbia Propane.

Fire officials said they have yet to determine why the Careys did not smell the leaking propane.

A steady rain drenched the home's charred remains on Friday, as George Carey Jr. sifted through debris searching for items to salvage.

"I found a few photographs, but there's really not much left of anything," he said. "The explosion sent stuff flying even out into the woods."

The central portion of the two-story house was a burned jumble of timber on Friday, and the home's east wall rested on its side in the mud.

Glass shards dotted the yard, gnarled metal clung to a neighboring roof, a football lay crushed beneath a fragment of the chimney, and soggy bath towels were strewn across a roadside flower bed.

A set of 5-foot-tall propane tanks lay intact at the rear of the yard.

"It sounded like a bomb went off," said neighbor Gene Posthumus, of 2300 Kaetzel Road. "It's beyond belief that anybody got out of it alive."

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