MCCALL, Idaho – One person has died and another is in hospital after a propane explosion near the McCall Golf Club on Fairway Drive in McCall.
Authorities responded to the explosion that destroyed a multi-story house at 4:19 a.m. Sunday afternoon.
A McCall Fire official said an adult man was killed in the blast and a young woman was airlifted to hospital in critical condition.
A couple we spoke to witnessed the blast on a family walk. They say the house in the center of the explosion is now completely destroyed.
“There was a massive, massive explosion,” said Sarah Williams. “It was like we were blowing ourselves up. I didn’t know what was going on, and I was with my 3 year old son, so I was like ‘I have to bring him in’ because he there was debris falling all over the place and we I could see papers and insulation coming out and our whole yard was filling with debris, so I wanted to go inside. “
Sarah’s husband Ian rushed to the scene of the explosion in hopes of helping anyone who may have been trapped inside. He says there is a gaping hole where a house once stood and all he could hear was a screaming woman.
“I can still hear it in my head,” said Ian Williams. “I didn’t want to be an onlooker, so I ran between the houses and climbed over the debris to see if I could get down and help, but the flames were too high.”
Williams was trying to save the woman, but firefighters told her to stay back due to the danger.
“There were two firefighters who came down to save the woman who was stuck in the crater, and at that point, when they came down there with their masks and everything, there was a second explosion,” he said. Ian said. “I would say it was a 15ft by 3ft fireball that shot above them as they rescued her.”
According to a press release from McCall’s Fire Department, the explosion destroyed the house and left a crater and debris field for hundreds of yards. Crews arriving first received reports that the survivor was screaming for help from behind the wreckage.
Two firefighters sheltered the teenager from the burning rubble, shielding her from the heat and fighting the blaze with a pressurized water extinguisher. Firefighters transported the teenager to the parking lot at McCall Golf Course where she was airlifted to the St. Alphonsus Trauma Center. As of 12:50 p.m. Monday morning, she remains in the intensive care unit in critical condition according to St. Al staff.
“I was really proud of the guys who came in and were able to save this person,” said Freddie Van Middendorp, McCall’s fire and EMS captain. “They did and acted with heroism beyond courage.”
Houses on both sides of the explosion were damaged by fire and broken windows. Sections of the ceiling collapsed inside neighboring houses and planks were found penetrating the roofs.
The Idaho State Fire Marshals Office and Acting McCall Fire Department Chief Garrett de Jong are working to determine the cause of the blast.
“We do not know the cause of the explosion, we cannot say for sure that it is safe for neighbors and passers-by, walkers to be in this area,” Middendorp said.
More information about the explosion is expected to be released in the coming days as the investigation continues.