Propane Gas Leak Being Considered in NY Home Explosion

Neither residents were home at the time of the explosion.

ByABC News
December 12, 2016, 6:49 PM

— -- A propane gas leak is being probed as the possible cause of an early morning explosion in Middletown, New York, that destroyed a house.

Neither Willie Ruele nor his roommate James Parker were home around 6:05 a.m. today, when their house on Meadow Lake Drive exploded.

Commissioner Brandon Casey of the Orange County Department of Emergency Services said his agency was investigating reports that residents had contacted a private propane supplier about a smell over the weekend. Casey said the blast appeared to be tied to a "propane tank leak."

"The propane probably pooled up in some area, and then there was some kind of ignition source (maybe the boiler turned on or an electrical device) that cause it to explode," Casey told ABC News in an email.

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A 911 call was not made before the explosion, according to ABC's New York station WABC-TV, but the gas company was scheduled to investigate at 9 a.m. today.

Luciana Bennett, who shares a fence with Ruele and Parker, said the blast felt like lightning hitting the house.

"We just heard a loud bang," she told ABC News today. "I was sleeping, my husband next to me. ... My wall literally buckled. Stuff was falling off the shelves and I just started screaming."

After checking on her two sons, Bennett said she looked out her home's back door and found her backyard littered with debris.

Ruele and Parker both said they were lucky to be alive and that the lost materials could be replaced.

"It's a bit of a shock," Ruele said. "I'm just so happy and I feel so blessed that I wasn't home."