Several pets killed in house explosion near Galva

MCHPERSON COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) Several pets died in a home explosion Wednesday in McPherson County.

Galva Fire Chief Wayne Williams says a neighbor reported the explosion just before 5 p.m. in the 1600 block of 24th Avenue, two miles north of Galva.

Williams says a propane issue in the house may have caused it, but the State Fire Marshall's Office is still investigating.

The homeowners weren't home at the time, but three dogs, a pet pig, and several cats died. No firefighters were hurt.

When neighbors heard the explosion, they wondered if a bomb had gone off or if a nearby refinery exploded.

Fire officials say the explosion was heard about 30 miles away and shook nearby houses. One woman who lives in the area says the blast caused the power in her home to blink.

Although the family's home is leveled, those who lived in the home are thankful this happened while they were away. Years of memories spread across the yard.

Thursday afternoon, Kimberlee Carlson dug through rubble to find what's left.

"It's surreal," Carlson says. "It gives you a new perspective on what is important and what's not. These were all material things. The important things are our pets that we had to bury today over there."

The State Fire Marshall is investigating the incident and hasn't determined a cause of the blast. The family points to its furnace as a possible source.

"We use propane and there was a new part just put on, so we don't know if that's related, or if it's some other issue," Carlson says. "But there was an explosion, as you can see."

You can find information on how to help the family begin to recover from everything lost in Wednesday's explosion here: Kim and Rich Carlson Fundraiser.

Considering the family's furnace as a possible source of the explosion, Eyewitness News Thursday spoke with a local professional at Fahnestock Plumbing, HVAC and Electric. He says the key when it comes to gas and propane appliances is annual inspections.

"Anything that's harnessing that kind of heat or has the potential to have those dangerous effects, it's just critical to have it tested and checked out," Fahnestock Service Manager Zac Forsyth says.

He says propane, unlike natural gas, is heavier than air, meaning that when there is a leak, propane pools in lower levels.

"The carbon-monoxide detector would need to be or best be suited upstairs and near the sleeping quarters and living quarters," Forsyth says. "A propane detector would want to be just the opposite, would need to be downstairs, near the appliances."

He says it's important to be cautious of what's next to a propane appliance that could also ignite the gas.

Forsyth says propane and natural gas are infused with an unpleasant odor, so when there is a leak, it's noticeable and when that smell is present, it's important to get out of the house immediately.