By Mitchell Peebles – THE VILLAGE REPORTER
Tragedy struck in Henry County when a Liberty Center house exploded Wednesday morning around 7:30. The home was located on County Road 9 off of County Road S om Henry County. The explosion injured homeowner 72 year old Steven Collins, and sadly claimed the life of his girlfriend , 63 year old Judy Garwood. Collins was hospitalized after the incident, and was listed in fair condition as of Thursday afternoon. The powerful impact of the blast was felt near and far. The foundation of a house right next to the explosion was actually shifted, and the owner of another neighboring home believes that the house will have to be demolished due to the damage caused by the blast. Henry County Emergency Management Director Tracy Busch described the scene “It looks like a tornado, I mean it really does look like a tornado…its mind boggling when you walk up, and there is no home…you can see that the part of the foundation [of the neighboring home] was shifted. It was a very powerful blast.” So powerful, in fact, that debris was scattered for hundreds of yards, and bits of insulation were found as far as four miles away from the site of the explosion.
The impact of the incident could be felt as far as ten miles away, and in fact, many Wauseon area residents reported feeling the blast.
Elaine Sugg of Wauseon heard and felt the blast, and even nearly ten miles away, it was powerful enough to take notice. “I heard the explosion this morning, but wasn’t sure what it was. I checked the clock and saw that it was 7:30. thought maybe it was a train derailment and then thought that maybe it was an earthquake.”
“I live 5 miles away [from the blast]” said Colleen Stewart “…and I thought someone had hit our house. It shook the house, and there was a loud boom.”
Robin Knapp, originally of Wauseon, and now a Whitehouse resident said “I heard it at the time, but didn’t know what it was. I thought someone or something in our house had fallen. I was in the garage getting ready to get in my car fir work. I went back in to check in everybody, and it was quiet as a mouse.”
Maryann Reimund of Wauseon first thought there was a person at her door “We thought someone was trying to get in the house and the dog started whining”
“I heard the explosion.” Wauseon resident Kim Laycock said “My house shook and my dog was barking in fear. I didn’t know what was happening at first. I thought it was a train derailment or a car cash. So I looked all around my house to see if everything was ok. I am still a little shaken up because that could happen to anybody.”
Officials are still investigating the cause of the explosion, but they suspect that a gas leak was the cause of the blast, as Collins used a propane tank to heat his home. Officials say that as the temperature drops and furnaces come on for the first time, it is important to get any heating equipment serviced and cleaned to help prevent these types of tragedies in the future.
Mitchell Peebles may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org