Home explosion resulting in major injuries is still under investigation

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Jon Decker photo

An explosion in this home located on River Road Wednesday afternoon sent one woman to the hospital. The cause of the explosion is being investigated by the State Fire Marshal.

The cause of an explosion inside a residence at 718 River Road on Wednesday that blew out a large window in the home and injured a pregnant resident is still under investigation.

While the West Glendive Fire Department was the first to respond to the scene the investigation has been turned over to the State Fire Marshal.

The victim’s family member, who did not want his name to be used, was at the site Thursday morning said the woman who was injured in the explosion was flown to Denver where she is being treated for burns. The family noted that the injuries were not life threatening to the woman or her unborn child.

The call on the explosion went out at 4:44 p.m. Wednesday. Along with the WGFD, local law enforcement was also on the scene and helped establish a cordon to keep people away from the scene until the gas leak could be located. The Glendive Ambulance Service also responded.

Montana-Dakota Utilities workers were also on scene.

It took three excavations to locate the source of the leak, a process that took all night Wednesday and into the early morning hours Thursday.

As a result, there are currently three large holes on River Road in front of the affected residence.

As for what happened inside of the house, the investigation is ongoing.

“We’re still trying to determine where this explosion happened,” West Glendive Fire Chief Richie Crisafulli said Thursday. The exact cause of the blast is still to be determined as well.

The WGFD responded with a pumper, a tender and a rescue rig. Two brush rigs were used for traffic support. Eleven firefighters responded, according to Crisafulli.

On Friday, State Fire Marshal Jerry Smith did not wish to comment, stating that it’s still too early to say anything until the investigation progresses further.

Montana Dakota Utilities spokesman Mark Hanson stated that he wasn’t sure on the exact number of MDU responders, but was able to describe the process of the response.

“We had to dig a couple of holes to get the main shut off to the service line to the house,” Hanson said, “The service line is called a loop line. We dug it out and put stoppers on two sides so other customers won’t lose service.”

After MDU employees reached the line, they were able to successfully shut off gas to the home.

A view of the scene revealed a large window blown out by the front door of the home. Window panes along with the frame were in pieces several yards away from the house, leaving behind a sparkling trail of shattered glass. Bits of what looked like blinds could be seen strewn about the front yard bushes.

Currently there is plywood boarding up where the window used to be, and yellow tape surrounding the border of the home. Members of the family are also looking for the homeowners’ three cats, which they assume fled the residence during the explosion.

Investigators and MDU workers were on site most of the day Thursday and Friday.

Reach Jon Decker at news@rangerreview.com.