One Person Killed in Home Explosion Near Garwin

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

Crews work at the scene of an explosion at a farm home near Garwin Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. (Dave Franzman/KCRG-TV9)

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By Richard Pratt

TAMA COUNTY, Iowa -- One person died in a powerful explosion that ripped apart a farm home northwest of Garwin early Thursday morning. The blast occurred shortly after 9 a.m. at 1207 230th street in rural Garwin, directly south of Union Grove State Park.

Initial reports from the scene had several people inside the home when it exploded. Tama County Sheriff Dennis Kucera said apparently a service technician was working on the home's furnace when something went wrong. The sheriff said investigators are focusing on liquid propane, or l-p gas, as the cause of the explosion.

Tama County property records list the home as belonging to Bruce and Mary Appelgate.

One man was transported to a Marshalltown hospital then transported to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics burn unit. He was identified as a heating and cooling repair technician. A spokesperson at the Iowa Fire Marshal's office confirmed the body discovered was that of a woman who was a resident at the home.

Matt Koester, Gladbrook Volunteer Fire chief, said the lone survivor was out of the house when help arrived.

"When we got here the house was fully engulfed. We had one person outside and we transported to the hospital. Right now we're trying to get the fire under control and search," Koester said.

Firefighters discovered the woman's body several hours later amid the rubble. Investigators did not reveal where the body was located. The name of the woman who died and the injured person are being withheld until relatives are notified.

Koester said firefighters were able to shut off two propane tanks supplying fuel to the home. While firefighters suspect it was a propane blast, determining how and why will take longer.

A number of rural fire departments fought the blaze. Several firefighters said no one could remember a blast this extensive in Tama County before.
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