COVINGTON, La. - A see-through shell makes up most of the remains of a burned up home in Covington that exploded Thursday night.
The explosion was heard and felt throughout the neighborhood.
"I didn't know if a plane had crashed into a house,” said Jeanne Brewer, who lives two blocks away, “I thought something exploded and sure enough, looking at the house today, it was horrific."
Investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Office discovered an open gas valve, connected to a propane tank outside, that filled the home with fuel, which ignited as the homeowner was trying to air the house out.
The explosion was so extreme that whole window and door frames blew out all across the home. While fire experts say this kind of accident is not common, it's the perfect example of the potential of propane tanks.
"We have more problems with natural gas lines than propane," said Kris Hines, Chief of Fire Prevention at St. Tammany Parish Fire District #12, “The hazards inherent are the same either way, it could be something as simple as a pilot light going out. The build-up of fuel in a house once it gets to the right ratio inside with oxygen and it hits a pilot light, it could cause a problem."
That’s why fire officials stress maintenance on gas lines and knowing how to react when that well-known gas scent hits your nose.
“If you smell that, we recommend, if you can, make sure you shut off the gas," said Hines, "If you can do it safely. If you can't, what we say is, don't turn on any lights, use your cell phone, evacuate everyone from the area."
It’s an eye-opener for some.
"I was completely unaware of the various things with propane tanks, the safety hazards and what comes with it," said Jeanne Brewer.
Fire officials hope the same lesson is learned by many more.
Authorities say the homeowner, who received minor burns from the explosion, was treated and released from the hospital.