Mother, two young children hospitalized following propane explosion in Vernon


TOWN OF VERNON — A mother and her two young daughters are hospitalized with burns this morning after a propane explosion leveled their mobile home at the Quiet Valley Trailer Park Sunday night.

The family’s medical conditions were not immediately available this morning. The exact cause of the explosion remains under investigation. Two other people were hurt in the response and were treated at local hospitals, officials said.

Vernon Center Fire Chief Peter Ropetski said the mobile home used propane for both the stove and the furnace. Investigators from the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control were on the scene today to see if they could pinpoint a cause.

“We haven’t got that nailed down, exactly what piece of equipment caused this to happen,” Ropetski stated. He did confirm that it was not the propane tank itself that exploded.

The force of the explosion destroyed the mobile home and impacted several other mobile homes in the area. Ropetski compared the damage to the movie “Twister” and tornado-level damage.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” the chief said.

“There are multiple mobile homes here damaged from the concussion waves” and flying debris, he noted. “Looks, literally, like a bomb went off."

The chief said the blast was so powerful that a 2x4 piece of lumber pierced the side of a neighboring mobile home.

The explosion occurred at about 7:15 p.m. Sunday, officials said. The 21-year-old mother and her two daughters, ages 2 and 5, were home at the time, and all three suffered burns in the blast, he chief said.

The 2-year-old was “literally blown out of her house in her crib,” Ropetski said.

The explosion alerted neighbors in the area, who rushed out to see what happened. The chief said the neighbors pulled the three from the debris and brought them to a nearby home to recover.

Five ambulances from Vineall and COCVAC Ambulance were called to the scene. The three family members were rushed to University Hospital in Syracuse. Ropetski said they are still at the hospital, but he did not know their conditions or the severity of their burns.

“First-arriving engines found some fire still visible. The majority of the trailer was on the ground,” the chief stated.

“A lot of the normal fire load was pushed outside of the building."

Responding crews doused what flame spots were visible. The chief said one person visiting the park suffered smoke inhalation, and one firefighter suffered a back injury when he slipped on a snow-covered sheet of roofing material. Both were also hospitalized.

The chief said the heavy snowfall Sunday night caused some delays in getting firefighters to the scene, so multiple departments were called to help.

“I had great outpouring from my neighboring departments,” Ropetski stated.

The Vernon Center, Vernon, Oneida Castle, Sherrill, Verona, Oriskany Falls and Clinton fire departments responded to the scene.


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