Tuesday night trailer explosion severely injures Dixon man
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2009 11:38 pm
Only rubble remains after a Tuesday night explosion blew apart a Dixon trailer, sending flaming debris high into the nighttime sky.
DIXON, Mo. (April 16, 2009) — A Tuesday night propane explosion destroyed a Dixon trailer and severely burned an area resident who was subsequently medevaced by helicopter for medical treatment.
The explosion was heard from one end of the city to the other, but few people were closer than Elizabeth Carpenter, who lives a few houses away on Locust Street.
Carpenter was walking into her home at the time of the blast and called 911 at 11:20 p.m., right after calling the Dixon Police Department.
“I said, ‘A house has just exploded.’ The dispatch said, ‘What?’ and I said, ‘We’re not talking a small fire, we have a massive explosion,’” Carpenter said. “We’re not talking a massive fire in one part of the house, the house was fully engulfed and stuff was raining down out of the sky.”
Carpenter, a Bank of Crocker employee who was formerly a nurse, and her husband, a Waynesville teacher who had originally trained to be a firefighter, both ran toward the house but backed off when they realized flaming debris was falling down around them.
“It was a very sickening feeling because I did not know if anybody was in there; if there had been anyone in there they would not be alive. It was just horrific,” Carpenter said.
However, at least one person had been in or near the home at the time of the blast, according to Dixon City Marshal Cliffty Yoakum.
“A neighbor ran to his door and saw someone crawling out from under it,” Yoakum said. “This fellow said he was laying inside when it blew up … from what I can see, he was burnt bad. Skin was hanging off his face and hands, and his hair was pretty well burned,”
The fire victim, who was a relative of the person who lives in the trailer, has not been publicly identified.
Yoakum said one of his officers had responded a half hour earlier when a person who lives on a nearby street reported a strong smell of propane gas.
“(Officers) didn’t find anything, but they went over to the next block and found a gas tank that was reading almost empty. They assumed it was probably leaking,” Yoakum said. “They knocked on the door, nobody answered the door. There were no vehicles in the driveway, so the officer shut the tank off.”
The explosion happened about 10 minutes after the officer left the area, Yoakum said.
“I heard it myself and I live as far on the south end of town as you can go. It sounded exactly like a sonic boom, but the officer had called me just a few minutes earlier about the smell of gas, so I suspected this was what happened,” Yoakum said. “I’m thankful that my officer didn’t blow up too; when you’re in an area that has propane, it is extremely dangerous to be there.”
Carpenter said that during her work in emergency services she saw several explosions, but nothing like what happened Tuesday.
“It was like something out of the movies,” Carpenter said. “There was an orange glow, I imagine it was probably the flash before the explosion, and it enveloped the whole area … The orange glow spread, and almost instantaneously you heard this massive explosion. It actually sounded like a jet breaking the sound barrier.”
“It was like, ‘Oh, my God, this can’t be what I’m seeing,’ but it was,” Carpenter said.
The initial blast was followed by repeated additional explosions from inside the trailer, Carpenter said.
The cause of the blast hasn’t yet been determined and remains under investigation, Yoakum said, but he said rumors in Dixon that the blast was related to methamphetamine production are not true.
“It was not meth-related, I can answer that real quick,” Yoakum said.
Even if Tuesday’s fire turns out to be an accident and entirely unrelated to criminal activity, Carpenter said it needs to be a wake-up call to area residents.
“We love Dixon, but it pains me to see some of the stuff that is going on here,” Carpenter said. “I take great pride in my little town, I know no town is perfect, but I love Dixon … but now, you’re getting ready to go in the front door and go to bed and the next thing you know a house explodes.”