Faulty propane system eyed in blast that killed teen and leveled Oklahoma home
A suspected faulty propane system caused an Oklahoma City home to explode, killing a teenage girl and injuring her parents and brother, fire officials said.
The girl, 14-year-old Berklee Maguire, was killed in the early Thursday blast at her northeast Oklahoma City home that was completely obliterated in a blast so powerful that neighbors and fire officials likened it to natural disasters, The Oklahoman reports.
“[The house] was leveled like an EF5 tornado came through here,” Oklahoma City Fire Battalion Chief Benny Fulkerson said.
Maguire’s father, Shawn, as well as her mother, Tanda, and brother Hayden, were burned during the blast and were hospitalized for their injuries, Fulkerson said.
Investigators believe the cause of the blast, which also damaged other nearby homes, was a log lighter connected to the family’s fireplace that had been leaking propane gas, which may have ignited by the slightest spark, KOCO reports.
“All these new construction that’s going up, people’s putting in log lighters,” said Nicholas Nadaeu, an enforcement officer with the state’s Liquefied Petroleum Gas Administration. “We’re working with all city officials and city code officials to let these people know, ‘Hey, these log lighters are illegal, they do not have a pilot safety shutoff.’”
Neighbor Patty Wommer said Shawn Maguire “kept repeating” after the blast that he had just plugged in a coffee pot prior to the deadly explosion.
“‘I plugged in the coffee pot, I got electrocuted and the house blew up,’” Wommer recalled him saying. “He said it a thousand times and he’s hurt really badly. We thought it was an earthquake. It’s not an earthquake.”
The ensuing fireball sent debris onto the yard of another nearby home and destroyed the garage doors of another, while insulation from the leveled home was still airborne some two hours later, the newspaper reports.
“It’s horrible,” another neighbor, Patti Woodard, said. “I’m heartbroken for the family but I hope they find out what caused this.”
Shawn Maguire, meanwhile, was in an intensive care unit after the explosion, according to an online fundraiser set up to help offset the teen’s funeral costs.
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