Propane blast victim had just returned from hospital visit

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on January 20, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 20 at 11:25 PM

Fatal explosion

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VAN ZANDT COUNTY — The light of day Monday morning showed the sheer destruction caused by an explosion at a rural Van Zandt County home on Sunday evening.

An elderly woman was killed in the blast at a residence near the intersection of . The fire marshal said leaking propane gas is to blame for the

The blast happened at a home near Farm-to-Market Road 47 and County Road 1651 northeast of Mabank and about 50 miles southeast of Dallas.

Neighbors said the deceased woman is a long-time resident, and she had been at a hospital during the day Sunday visiting her husband, who had just been admitted.

Shortly after she returned home Sunday evening, it blew up, killing her. Her name has not been released.

"[It sounded like] a big sonic boom," said neighbor Robert Dearick. "It's the loudest boom I ever heard in my life."

Dearick said his adult daughter had just dropped the victim off after her day at the hospital.

"Three minutes, my daughter would've been blowed up there with her," he said.

Fire investigators returned to the scene on Monday. County Fire Marshal Chuck Allen said they found a propane line that was partially open and flowing, but not connected to an appliance, like a heater.

"She possibly lit a cigarette, or turned the TV on, or whatever she did caused the initial explosion, and then any gas that was contained in the back part of the residence is what actually blew the back door off," Allen said.

He added that the deceased woman's husband is a former Marine who was concerned on Sunday that he was unable to reach his wife, even before he learned about the fatal blast.

"He had tried numerous times to call her, and couldn't get her on the phone," Allen said. "He was already becoming anxious."

A Justice of the Peace informed him that his wife perished in the explosion.

After calling in state officials, the fire marshal has concluded the blast was an accident.

The incident in Van Zandt County recalls a similar explosion at a Johnson County residence on November 30 that killed a 62-year-old woman. A propane gas leak was also blamed in that case.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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