Propane leak causes home explosion in Butler County

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Authorities in Butler County say a 67-year-old man suffered critical injuries in a home explosion caused by a propane leak.

Andover Deputy Fire Chief Mike Roosevelt said, "At this point in the investigation we're certain that the incident was a propane explosion. The exact ignition source, the crews have not yet finalized their investigation for that."  

Sheriff Kelly Herzet said they received the report of a house explosion at around 3:15 p.m. Monday in the area of 155th Street and Indianola Road, which is near Rose Hill.

Neighbors say they heard a loud noise and called 911. When emergency crews arrived they found the homeowner standing with neighbors on the street, injured and disoriented.

The man suffered severe burns and was listed in critical condition. 

Propane is a common home fuel source in rural Kansas.  But Chief Roosevelt said, like any hazardous chemical it's dangerous when it gets out of its container.  He advises us to be alert for propane's odor.  Roosevelt said,  "Anybody that has gas heat in their home be alert to that odor, that smell of rotten eggs or a hissing sound around any of your gas fired appliances."   He said it's best to get out of the area.  The chief said, only if you can safely shut off the gas to the appliance, or better yet the whole house, then do it.  

Roosevelt said propane is heavier than air and so will seek the lower places, such as, a home's basement and accumulate.  

"Certainly there was a leak at some point and there was a certain amount of accumulation."  

He said an ignition source could be turning on a light switch or a motor coming on in a home.  But again, he reminds us, exactly where the leak was or its ignition source hasn't been determined.

A family member at the scene of the explosion Tuesday afternoon said man, identified as James Horn, remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

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