Investigators release new details about a deadly propane explosion in Butler County last week.
Authorities say an employee at Global Propane was filling a tank when something caused a pressurized refueling hose to break away from the tank.
"It (the hose) was whipping around and spewing propane and something caused it to ignite. We don't know exactly what," said Butler Co. Fire District 3 Chief James Woydziak.
The worker was caught in the immediate fire. 40 year-old Jeffrey Burnham died of his injuries. Two other Global propane employees suffered burns to their hands and arms while trying to help Burnham to safety, Woydziak said.
The initial fire touched off a series of explosions that sent small propane tanks rocketing through the air. It's believed one of them struck the piping of a much larger 18,000 gallon tank, causing it to catch fire. Concern about that tank exploding prompted officials to immediately remove firefighters from the area and evacuate citizens within a four square mile area.
"If it gets hot enough that the steel gets weak then the tank can rupture and it when it does, it does so with catastrophic results," said Woydziak, noting that tanks that size have been know to fly through the air and shoot metal debris up to three quarters of a mile.
Officials said some evacuees didn't listen and sneaked back into the danger zone in search of pets or belongings. They hope in the future to use the media to better emphasize the danger of a situation and the need to stay away.
It was a safe guess for anyone who saw the plume of smoke over Butler County on Tuesday - whatever was underneath it, was in bad shape."It looks like a bomb went off down here. I didn't know that could do that much damage."
Melanie Smith and her husband, Justin ,bought an old gas station and rental house next to Global Propane six years ago. On Friday, burned out shells were all that still stood on the property.
"I saw the footage on TV Wednesday morning and I saw two houses near this one were still standing. I thought that ours were still standing as well but they weren't."
But once the initial shock wore off the Smiths had to start wondering what do they do now.
"We've had the insurance adjuster looked at the house. The gas station, we're just kind of waiting and hoping Global Propane will step up and take care of us."
Smith says she knows they aren't the only ones who were affected by the fire. Global Propane also suffered damage and lost an employee. She doesn't want to rush anyone, but says she worries about how long it may take to get some answers, and a resolution.
"You want to get on with your life and it's hard to do with so many things up in the air and you just have to take it day by day."