Explosion blasts roof off home; renter OK

A Grand Junction man suffered only minor injuries in a propane explosion inside his home Friday afternoon. An official with the Clifton Fire Protection District said the man is “very lucky” to be alive.

Darwin Easter had minor burns after a propane heater exploded at 3102 F Road, Assistant Fire Chief Greg Martin said. The home was a total loss, Martin said, but he did not have a damage estimate Friday night.

Easter told firefighters the explosion threw him up against a wall but that he did not need to go to the hospital. That Easter’s injuries were limited to minor burns was remarkable, Martin said.

Easter had 260 pounds of propane inside his rental home, Martin said, adding, “He had enough propane to blow that house and some houses around him.”

Martin said firefighters found at least five propane tanks in the home but that not all of them exploded.

Firefighters thought they were responding to a propane leak when they were called to Easter’s home at 4:30 p.m., Martin said.

Instead, they arrived to find major damage from an explosion.

“It literally lifted the roof structure up and then back down on the walls,” Martin said.

Easter, who rents the home, told firefighters a natural gas heater inside the home was not working, so he rigged a portable propane heater, Martin said. Before the explosion, Easter said he heard a “hissing sound.” When he went to check on the sound, the tank exploded, Martin said.

“This guy is very lucky to be alive,” he said.

Martin added that an explosion such as Friday’s serves as a reminder to people to store
propane away from all heating or ignition sources. Propane should be kept outside, Martin said.

The Mesa County Building Department said the house is uninhabitable, Martin said, and Easter told firefighters he was going to stay with friends.

No one else was home when the blast occurred. The owner was not in town, Martin said.


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