An explosion leveled a south Casper home shortly after noon on Monday. Nobody was thought to have been hurt as a result, authorities said.
The home, which had stood at the end of a cul-de-sac overlooking the intersection of Arroyo Drive and West 38th Street, scattered flaming debris when it exploded. That debris set neighbors’ yards ablaze but the flames did not spread further.
The home was completely destroyed. By mid-Monday afternoon, Casper Fire-EMS had not yet determined a cause of what the agency was calling an apparent explosion and subsequent fire. Pat McJunkin, a spokesman for the fire department, said the agency was investigating whether natural gas had caused or contributed to the explosion. When firefighters arrived shortly after 12:30 p.m., they found flames shooting up from a damaged gas meter.
By mid-afternoon, Black Hills Energy trucks were parked nearby and employees walked the neighborhood. A Black Hills representative said early Monday evening that the company did provide natural gas to the home. Michael Howe, the spokesman, said an ongoing investigation meant he could not provide details regarding the cause of explosion and subsequent fire.
McJunkin said by mid-afternoon that authorities had preliminary information indicating the home’s resident was out of town on Monday. Authorities had determined nobody was injured or killed in neighborhood homes. He said a further search of the destroyed house was necessary before the fire department would be certain nobody had been harmed.
The blast rattled windows throughout the area and could be felt at least a mile away. In the aftermath, authorities closed Arroyo Drive between 37th and 39th streets, marking the closure with yellow tape. By mid-afternoon, 39th Street remained closed a half block east of the Plateau Place cul-de-sac.
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The home was reduced largely to concrete: Not much but portions of its smoldering frame and jumbled scraps of plywood remained atop the foundation. Downhill from what had been a home was a section of grass turned black where a yard had been set ablaze by burning debris.
Firefighters had removed a section of fence to access the yard. The felled fence still lay next to Arroyo Street. Scattered for blocks were chunks of pink insulation, torn shingles and pieces of plywood with bent nails protruding. Sturdier lumber, sheared to smaller pieces, also lay scattered in the street.
Larry Jeratowski, 64, stood at the intersection of 38th street and Arroyo Drive, where he chatted with family and neighbors. Jeratowski told the Star-Tribune he had been sitting on the lower level of his home — diagonally adjacent to the damaged house — when photos and plaques fell off the wall. He at first thought he’d experienced a sudden earthquake, but went upstairs and saw people pointing over his roof to the flaming building in the cul-de-sac behind it.
By 2:30 p.m., authorities hadn’t let him back into his home to gather essentials. He said he did not expect to be allowed to spend the night at home. Jeratowski’s plans were less than certain, but he said he’d likely stay with friends or in a hotel room for the night.