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Video: Bradford, Vt., House Destroyed in Apparent Explosion

  • Firefighters look over the scene of a house explosion in Bradford, Vt., on June, 29, 2017. (Valley News- Jennifer Hauck)

  • Power is disconnected at the scene of a house explosion in Bradford, Vt., on June, 29, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, June 29, 2017

Bradford — A two-story clapboard house across from Oxbow High School was destroyed in an apparent explosion around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, drawing firefighters from several area towns.

First responders confirmed that the homeowner, a woman in her early 60s named Marianne O’Malley, lives there alone and is out of town.

No injuries have been reported.

Firefighters as of Thursday night did not know what caused the explosion, which ripped open the house at 486 Upper Plain Road — also known as Route 5 — but left it partly standing, and which did not result in a long-lasting fire.

“Other than the obvious — that it blew up — we don’t know yet,” safety officer and former fire Chief Gary Moore, of West Newbury, Vt., said on the scene.

Dan Perry III, a former fire chief who lives across the street from the wrecked house, called in the blast shortly after it happened, around 6:30 p.m., while he was on the way out of his own home.

“I walked outside, then I heard ‘kaboom’ — it was as simple as that,” he said, describing the sound as something akin to a car crash.

There were no flames, but the building was torn open, with the roof sagging down toward an exposed corner facing the street. An ell in back appeared to have collapsed, and debris covered a pickup truck in the driveway.

In his 26 years as a firefighter, Perry said, he hadn’t seen anything like it.

Soon after the explosion, Perry went over to the house and turned off the line to an outside propane tank that had begun to leak. The house itself was structurally unsound and unsafe to enter, firefighters said, and Moore noted that the tank wasn’t necessarily the cause — the explosion could well have severed the line, he said.

Emergency workers initially were unsure whether or not O’Malley was at home, given that her truck was parked there, and made calls in the following hours to family members and friends. A search-and-rescue squad also was called to comb through the wreckage.

Moore said the authorities eventually got in touch with O’Malley in Maine, where she was on vacation.

Traffic was stopped in both directions on Route 5 as of 9 p.m., but was reopened shortly before 11:30 p.m. Emergency workers said they planned on being at the scene for quite a while.

“It’s going to be a real long night,” Moore said.

Rob Wolfe can be reached at rwolfe@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.