The sister of a Dobbin family injured in a home explosion pointed to a leaky propane tank as the source of the tragic early morning blast. According to her, the family’s propane tank was just refilled, but a leak allowed the gas to escape, creating the conditions that lead to the home explosion.
Homes miles away felt the percussion from the blast and nearby homes lost windows when the alleged propane explosion essentially leveled the Dobbin home. Two women were hospitalized with serious burn injuries and an eight-month-old boy was taken to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for treatment.
The infant had been trapped under debris from the home explosion but was found and rescued by responders from Consolidated Communications. He was burned on over half of his body and suffered a head injury, the extent of which is yet undetermined.
Investigators have not yet pointed to the propane tank as the root cause of the explosion; they have asserted that it may take days to find out why the home was flattened during breakfast.
According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, about 2,500 propane explosions happen every year throughout the United States. Those explosions account for 20 fatalities and more than 300 injuries in propane-fueled blasts.
Propane is a colorless, odorless gas under normal conditions. The addition of ethyl mercaptan is done as a safety precaution to alert homeowners to the possibility of a gas leak. The smell, like rotten eggs, can be absorbed however by rust inside a propane storage tank or by porous material like concrete or drywall. Often when a propane tank is involved in an explosion it is either new or has not been in continuous use, allowing rust to form that will react with the mercaptan and potentially neutralize the warning smell.
Source: KHOU, “Women, infant remain hospitalized after Montgomery County home explosion,” June 13, 2013