MONTGOMERY County, Texas — Debris spanned 300 feet wide when a home explosion rocked the usually quiet town of Dobbin Tuesday morning, critically injuring two women and an 8-month-old boy, according to the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office.
It was around 9 a.m. when the home blew up while a family was inside.
“They were cooking breakfast and when the house blew up, she was standing in the middle of the house,” said Pastor Randy Weaver.
The blast sent the refrigerator skyrocketing out of the house and landing on a car outside.
“I heard the noise and ducked down. I swear that I thought we were going to war,” said Nikki Pollard, neighbor. “It made me deaf. Look at my house, it busted all my windows. I don’t have a window left in my house.”
Across the street from her home was much worse. Much more than a football field were the scattered remnants of what was once someone’s home. The house was leveled.
“I’d be surprised if anybody lived through that. It knocked things off my shelf a quarter mile away,” said Ken Webster, neighbor.
A DPS Trooper and a phone company employee were close by and rushed to the site to see if anyone had been hurt.
They found two sisters, 65-year-old Lena Mock Knight and 58-year-old Jennifer Mock, inside the debris.
“They got carried out there was no walking. There was a little bitty baby in there,” said Pollard.
That baby was Mock’s grandson, 8-month-old Wyatt Smith.
The quick reaction from the good Samaritans helped to carve out precious time and paramedics were able to immediately place focus on the victims.
“They went into the property and they were able to pull the victims out and our understanding of it is they actually went in there and were able to get the baby out of the debris and get them to the firefighters as they were arriving,” said Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams. “They were handing off those victims to the firefighters. The firefighters, from the moment they arrived, had very little fire. It was all medical care for the critically injured patients.”
The sisters were airlifted to Memorial Hermann Hospital with serious burns and the baby was taken to UTMB Galveston Hospital to be treated for burn and trauma injuries.
Investigators were then left to find out what exactly happened.
“As you can obviously see, we have a home that is devastated, completely demolished. We have parts of it in the trees. We have a debris field of 300 feet wide. We are looking at what could have caused that. There are no other explosives in the house. This home is not served by natural gas. It is served by liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG, and that is pretty much the only thing that could have caused this significant explosion in the house,” Williams said.
Investigators are covering every angle.
“We are looking at those systems, whether there was a leak, whether there was an ignition or how that ignition occurred, where that leak occurred? Obviously, was it in the house, was it at the tank? There are a lot of factors that will all be part of our investigation in the days to come,” Williams said.
Family members believe they know how the accident occurred.
“The propane tank had a leak and they had just filled it up and they think all the propane leaked out,” said Phyllis Hamilton, the victims’ sister.
The Railroad Commission of Texas oversees LP gas systems. Its investigators are looking closely at the tanks.