DURANGO, Colo. (AP) – A girl and her parents were recovering at hospitals Wednesday after their home exploded shortly after they smelled gas.
“It’s really a miracle that anyone survived this thing,” said Bruce Evans, deputy chief of the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District.
The homeowner called the propane company after smelling gas Tuesday night. A service employee arrived at the family’s ranch later that night to find the home had exploded, Evans said.
The employee found the girl, around age 9, huddling inside a car for warmth, with temperatures in the teens, Evans said. She appeared to have gotten in the car despite having a fractured leg, Evans said.
“She has the survival instinct to get in the car to keep warm,” Evans said. “The propane employee found her in there, scooped her up and drove down the hill to make a 911 call because there’s no cell service in the area. He’s the hero behind the whole thing.”
Neighboring ranchers who heard the explosion helped find the girl’s parents under about 4 to 6 feet of debris in a crawl space. Crews had to use saws and hydraulic tools to get them out.
One adult was flown to a hospital for critical injuries, exposure and burns. The other parent’s injuries weren’t disclosed.
The Durango Herald identified the victims as Tim and Karen Kelley and their daughter, Cameron. Tim Kelley was in serious condition and Cameron was in good condition Wednesday at Mercy Regional Medical Center, while Karen Kelley was in critical condition at University of Colorado Hospital in Denver, hospital representatives said.
Friends rescued the family’s dog Wednesday from under debris. The dog, Rocco, was taken to an animal hospital in serious condition.
The cause of the explosion was under investigation. Firefighters have estimated the damage to the home and two vehicles at more than $850,000.
Firefighters urged people who smell gas in their homes to leave and call the fire department.
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