GRANDVIEW, Texas — Johnson County investigators are still trying to determine the cause of an explosion that killed 62-year-old Wanda Davis near Grandview late Saturday night.
Her family has asked for privacy; they blocked the entrance to the property on Monday as Davis' husband was due back in town. He had been on a business trip in North Carolina when the log cabin-style house exploded.
Rescue teams found Davis' body around noon on Sunday.
Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms who assisted the Johnson County Sheriff's Office in the investigation, said the search for a cause is ongoing.
Sheriff's officials believe propane gas filled the basement of the house and was ignited when a water heater turned on.
A clerk at Yellow Rose Propane in Cleburne told News 8 that for the house to be obliterated in the way it was, it had to be either a substantial leak or was leaking for some time.
The Texas Railroad Commission confirmed that its staffers are involved in the investigation "to determine if there were any non-compliance issues" involving the agency's rules and regulations involving the use of propane gas.
The RRC said odorant is added to propane to give it a very pungent smell. "Some leaks may also be detected by the sound of gas escaping from a valve, pipe or gas equipment," the agency said in a written response to questions from News 8.
Lt. Tim Jones, a sheriff's department spokesperson, said investigators believe Davis had trouble with her sense of smell.
"We know that she did have a sense of smell issue from family. We don't know if that's related to it or not; she was found in her night clothes, thermal underwear. She looked like she had been in bed," he said.
The propane dealer told us the only way you wouldn't smell it was if you are asleep — or don't have a sense of smell.
The Railroad Commission offers these propane safety tips for homeowners:
- If you smell propane, immediately extinguish all cigarettes and other sources of ignition, leave the house, and move outside without using any electric switches, appliances, thermostats or telephones.
- Once outside, if possible, close the gas shut-off valve on the outside propane tank or cylinter by turning it to the right.
- After leaving the area, call the local fire department or propane supplier from a cell phone or a neighbor's telephone.
The RRC offers additional propane safety tips at its Website.