A natural gas explosion lifted a small downtown Coeur d’Alene home off its foundation early Wednesday, shattered windows and sent debris flying as far as 100 feet. An addition on the back of the vacant house was completely torn off by the blast.
The back door, walls and a charred bed mattress littered the back yard. The roof to the addition looked like it had been picked up and set down on top of a pile of rubble.
Nobody was in the house at the time of the explosion. Spokane resident Steve Spickard, who owns the small blue and white home at 1017 E. Garden, said he had been renting it out until recently. He said his family was fixing up the home, replacing carpet and painting, and was considering moving there.
The cause of the explosion is under investigation, according to the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department.
Neighbor Julie Hammock said she was sleeping when she heard the blast about 3:30 a.m.
“It sounded like a sonic boom,” she said. “Everyone was awake then.”
Spickard said another neighbor called him after the blast and said it was the loudest explosion she had ever heard. As of Wednesday afternoon, Spickard hadn’t surveyed the damage himself.
Avista Utilities spokeswoman Debbie Simock said utility crews responded after the blast to investigate and determined that the explosion had occurred “on the customer’s side.” As far as Avista is concerned, its role in the investigation is complete, she said.
When fire crews arrived on the scene, they discovered a fire in the basement and considerable damage to the rest of the one-story house. They were able to contain the fire to the house, according to a news release from the fire department.
Simock said she didn’t know the specifics of the incident but said it was important for natural gas customers to remember that if they smell gas or “rotten eggs” to immediately leave the house. She said people shouldn’t even flip on a light switch, a cell phone or pick up their home phone if they smell gas.
Instead, Simock said, residents should leave their home and call for help from a neighbor’s house.