Natural Gas Explosion Destroys Idaho Home

RATHRDRUM, Idaho (AP) — Two people were injured after a northern Idaho home exploded following a natural gas leak.

Tyler Drechsel, fire marshal with the Northern Lakes Fire Protection District, said crews responded to a natural gas leak at the home in Rathdrum about 10:15 a.m. Thursday after a contractor reportedly bored through a natural gas line in the front yard. The fire crews were joined by crews from the electric and natural gas utility Avista.

Drechsel said Avista secured the natural gas leak and gave the fire crews the all clear, so the firefighters responded to additional calls in the area.

More than two hours after the initial call, they responded to an explosion at the same house. Drechsel said he was told after he left that an Avista representative inspected the house and reported there were no readings of natural gas.

Drechsel said the power was turned back on to the house and within five minutes, there was an explosion that knocked out windows and walls and a fire spread quickly through the home.

Two homeowners and an Avista Utilities worker were in the house at the time. The male homeowner suffered burns to his arm, and the utility worker received first-degree burns on his neck. The female homeowner escaped from the second floor of the home by climbing down a ladder with the help of a neighbor.

The home that exploded is considered a total loss, and a nearby home received heat damage.

Drechsel said he was told that at one point, someone threw dirt on the leak to try and stop it, which may have caused the natural gas to migrate into the ground rather than dissipate in the air.

About 12 nearby homes were evacuated while crews worked to ensure there were no pockets of natural gas remaining in the ground.

Avista issued a statement Thursday evening saying it was “working through the incident in Rathdrum involving Avista’s natural gas infrastructure following a third-party natural gas dig in.”

“Avista crews are onsite and working alongside first responders to secure and investigate the situation,” it said.

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