WILSON, N.Y. (WIVB) - The deadly house explosion in Wilson is an alarming wake up call for any family who uses propane. Are there warning signs homeowners should look for?
Whether its propane or natural gas, your CO detector won't go off if there's a leak, so first responders say you have to trust your nose and when in doubt call 911.
Hours after the Johnsons' home exploded in Wilson Tuesday, their next door neighbor verbalized what many residents who use propane might be thinking.
|>> Full Coverage: See photos of the explosion, the victims, and the vigil. Listen to audio of crews learning of the devastation. Read stories about the community coming together for the Johnson family. And find out how you can help.|
Matt Henderson said, "I'm definitely leery now about our situation and I'd like to have our propane lines checked by a professional."
It's been two-and-a-half days and investigators say that the family had smelled something in the house the day before, but the Niagara County Undersheriff and Noco Energy General Manager Mike Newman still couldn't tell News 4 whether the family reported it or tried to find the source of what may have been a propane leak.
Erie County Emergency Services Commissioner Dan Neaverth said, "It's really hard to describe [the smell of propane], but it's one of those things, you know it when you smell it."
It is a different smell from the egg-odor added to natural gas, and a CO detector wouldn't go off in either case. But if you do smell a possible gas leak, call 911.
"Sometimes the worst thing you can do is shut something off. So you want to make sure that you're taking the proper steps," Neaverth noted.
The commissioner says propane is as safe and as regulated as natural gas. Out of thousands of homes that use it, often years go by before something like this happens locally. In this case, pieces of the house were thrown nearly 500 yards, and that debris field, combined with how much propane if any was left in the tank, will help investigators determine a cause.
"It's a rare tragic incident, but it's still, if you can get people tonight to just go out and check the hoses on their propane, there are incidences that can be avoided," Neaverth said.
And it's very easy to check your gas lines for leaks.
Neaverth explained, "You can take a sprayer with hot soapy water and you can spray and if the tank's on and you start to see bubbles, that's how HAZMAT teams will check in many cases for leaks."
Niagara County Investigators have finished their work at the Johnson's property in Wilson, and have turned the scene over to the insurance adjusters. The sheriff's office might have more to say about the investigation on Friday.
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