A propane-fueled home explosion fatally injured a North Texas woman this week. The leaked propane gas ignited when it came in contact with a water heater in the woman’s basement in Johnson County, according to investigators.
Propane gas leaks are not uncommon, but residents are often made aware of a potential leak by the smell of rotten eggs. An additive in natural gas causes the pungent odor to alert people to a potential gas leak; without the additive, natural gas is colorless and odorless. Unfortunately in this fatal home explosion, it is being reported that the one thing that could have saved the woman – the alerting smell of the gas – was something she would never have noticed. She had little to no sense of smell.
According to usepropane.com, there are some people who may have trouble smelling the warning signs of a gas leak, including older adults, those with medical issues that impact the ability to smell and those taking medications that inhibit the sense. In addition, drugs and alcohol can have an impact on smell, dulling the sense to a point that may make it difficult to recognize a gas leak. Propane detectors, like smoke detectors, are available for purchase.
Initially it was believed that no one was injured in the blast, but responding personnel discovered the body of the 62-year-old victim in the rubble of the home. She was the only one home at the time.
The Texas Railroad Commission examined the debris of the 4,000 square foot home that was leveled by the blast to determine if non-compliance issues with applicable regulations played a role in the gas leak and resulting explosion. The home explosion occurred just west of Grandview and was reported by residents in nearby Cleburne, Rio Vista and Keene.
Source: CBS DFW, “Woman Killed In Texas Gas Explosion Had No Sense Of Smell,” December 2, 2013