Propane explosion rocks local home
Published 12:34 pm Friday, April 3, 2009
Washington man miraculously escapes serious injury after morning disaster
By TED STRONG
An explosion at a house on Boston Avenue sent debris flying into the air and injured one man Thursday morning.
The blast at 719 Boston Ave., which was reported just before 11 a.m., injured the home’s owner James “Buddy” Murray.
Firefighters later said they thought the explosion was linked to Murray’s use of a water heater, but weren’t certain what exactly caused the problem.
The heater uses propane, fire officials said.
Most gas systems inside the city use piped-in natural gas.
Murray was taken to Beaufort County Medical Center, said Washington Department of Fire-Rescue-EMS-Inspections Chief Jimmy Davis. From there he was transported to the burn unit at the Ambulatory Care Center of N.C. Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill.
He did well through the trip, said his sister, Grace Clark, speaking early Thursday evening from a home near her brother’s.
Murray was listed in good condition Thursday evening by UNC Health Care, said spokeswoman Stephanie Crayton. Firefighters also later found Murray’s small dog in good condition, though the animal had taken quite a ride.
The explosion caused some fire at the site, mostly in the center and under rubble, Davis said. The fire department eventually used a backhoe to pick up some of the rubble so firefighters could spray beneath it.
Witnesses described the explosion as tall and terrifying.
Peter Smallwood, another neighbor, was lying down in his home when the blast hit.
Mima Dixon, who lives next door to Murray, said her car was covered with insulation from Murray’s house.
But when the explosion hit, brick’s from Murray’s house demolished a fence between their properties.
People across the city, at least as far away as Third and Market streets, heard the explosion.
Yates said the explosion was rare: “We just don’t get a lot of that.”
Two fire engines, two EMS squads and 25 firemen responded, Davis said. Bunyan Volunteer Fire Department stood by in case it was needed in the Washington area, he said.
Cutline for corresponding photo: Emergency personnel sift through the remains of James Murray’s home at 719 Boston Ave., which was destroyed by a Thursday-morning propane explosion. (WDN Photo/Paul Dunn)