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Apr-20-2007 16:17printcomments

Natural Gas Explosion Injures 4 Canby Firefighters

A firefighter noticed a quick spike in the gas levels on the portable gas monitor, then seconds later Firefighter John Stanislaw heard the furnace come on. "Then the room exploded."

Scene of house explosion in Canby, Oregon
Photos courtesy: Canby Fire

(CANBY, Ore.) - A natural gas explosion at a Canby home could have been tragic Thursday as one firefighter was blown 80 feet into the street during a major explosion. But Canby Fire reports that at this time, all four of the individuals are released from medical care. Canby Deputy Fire Chief Todd Gary says it began when firefighters were called to a report of a natural gas leak at 11:15 AM Thursday morning located at 1257 SE Sycamore Street.

"Duty Chief Tom O'Connor and a fire engine crew led by Captain Chip Bryant responded to the scene. On arrival, Chief O'Connor was advised by the Northwest Natural supervisor that nearby homes may need to be evacuated."

O'Connor later radioed that the Northwest Natural gas crews had shut the leak off and would not need assistance or further evacuation of additional homes.

Captain Bryant's crew had been ventilating and testing the air in the home, opening windows on the first and second floor, then had moved to the garage when everything suddenly went wrong, according to Gary.

"Captain Bryant was going to manually open the garage door when Firefighter Raina Eshleman noticed a quick spike in the gas levels on the portable gas monitor, then seconds later Firefighter John Stanislaw heard the furnace come on. "Then the room exploded," Stanislaw said, and he was blown out the back door into the yard as the garage and home were blown apart."

scene of explosion in CanbyHe says Eshleman was briefly trapped under the collapsed second floor but managed to extricate herself. Captain Bryant was blown out the front of the garage, through the opening left by the garage door that had been blown eighty feet into the street.

That Gary says, is when Chief O'Connor immediately called for a full second alarm assignment at 11:35 after the explosion.

"Engine operator John Footman, who was outside at the time of the explosion and had been hit by debris, did an exceptional job of moving the engine into fire attack position and getting a hose line pulled to control the ensuing fire."

Amazingly, the firefighters were able to walk away from the explosion, check on each others' injuries, and fight the fire until additional help arrived. Eshleman, Stanislaw, and Footman were taken to local hospitals and were later released.

Captain Bryant sustained burns and was transported to the Oregon Burn Center, and we are pleased to report he was discharged from the hospital today after staying the night. "These firefighters followed procedure, wore proper protective equipment including full facemasks, and showed incredible poise and teamwork after the explosion," said Fire Chief Ted Kunze. "They came very close to being critically injured or killed, and we are all thankful for the outcome."

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