1 dead, 3 injured in Oklahoma City house explosion
An explosion leveled a home shortly before 7 a.m. in northeast Oklahoma City Thursday that left one child dead and hurt three other people.
Oklahoma City Fire Department Battalion Chief Benny Fulkerson said the father of the house, located on the 8000 block of NE 139th, sustained serious injuries while a minor male and the mother suffered burn injuries. All were taken to a local hospital.
"[The house] was leveled like an EF5 tornado came through here," Fulkerson said.
A nearby house had debris from the explosion thrown across its yard and another house had its garage doors blown in. Insulation from the destroyed house was still seen falling from the sky two hours after the explosion.
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Patti Woodard, a neighbor, said the family that lived in the destroyed house could always be seen spending time together around the neighborhood.
"It's horrible," Woodard said. "I'm heartbroken for the family but I hope they find out what caused this."
Officials said initial indications are that the blast, which leveled the home and damaged others nearby, was related to a system that supplied the structure with propane gas.
Homeowners in rural areas often use propane systems to meet their cooking and heating needs.
But other possibilities are being investigated.
Neighbor Patti Wommer said the father explained how he plugged in a coffee pot and "the house blew up."
Wommer said she found the father in tattered clothes, crying because he couldn't find his family amidst the rubble.
Update: Four people involved. 3 injuries and 1 fatality. All injured have been transported to the hospital. 7:43 am— Oklahoma City Fire (@OKCFD) September 24, 2020
Update: Pictures pic.twitter.com/NbSB5LAEjk— Oklahoma City Fire (@OKCFD) September 24, 2020
Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, said the commission's Pipeline Safety Department is checking to see if there are any natural gas-related pipelines in the area that could have been related to the incident.
He said the incident would fall outside of the commission's jurisdiction, though, if it involved a propane related system.
In that case, any subsequent investigation would be conducted by Oklahoma's Liquified Petroleum Gas Board, an agency created by Oklahoma's Legislature in 1953 to regulate the industry within the state.
That agency issues dealer and manager permits to qualified applicants and enforces all laws related to the handling, use, storage, sales, distribution, transportation and the manufacturing of butane, propane, and other liquefied petroleum gases and installation of liquefied petroleum gas systems.
Larry Snodgrass, administrator of Oklahoma's Liquefied Petroleum Gas Board, said Thursday that his agency's first step will be to determine if propane was involved and whether all appropriate rules were followed if that is the case.
"We feel for the family and will do our best to get to the bottom of this tragic situation as best we can," Snodgrass said.
Richard Hall is an award-winning newsroom developer, editor and blogger for NewsOK. He was born in Austin, Texas, spent his childhood in southern California and has lived in Norman since 1999. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2008. Read more ›
Jack Money has worked for The Oklahoman for more than 20 years. During that time, he has worked for the paper’s city, state, metro and business news desks, including serving for a while as an assistant city editor. Money has won state and regional... Read more ›
Josh Dulaney joined The Oklahoman in November 2016. Dulaney is a California Newspaper Publishers Association award winner for his writing. In both 2018 and 2019 he earned newspaper writer of the year honors from the Great Plains Journalism Awards. Read more ›