Couple escapes injury in blast

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Vernon and Cindy Ainsworth are lucky to be alive, said Whitewater Fire Protection District chief Garry Moore.

The Whitewater couple survived a propane gas blast inside their home on Poplar Street that lifted the home off its foundation and left the inside looking as though a tornado blew through it.

At around 3 p.m., the Ainsworths attempted to light their floor furnace with a match when built-up vapors suddenly ignited right in front of them.

Moore said one of his department's firefighters works at the Whitewater Farm Services Co-op, where the windows shook from the blast, heard the explosion and walked over to investigate before immediately calling for assistance.

Both Vernon and Cindy Ainsworth reportedly suffered only minor burns and sprains and were checked over by emergency responders, but they chose to be driven privately to a Cape Girardeau hospital, Moore said.

"Propane gives off a big enough explosion that it can blow itself out," he said. "Propane is heavier than air and it sets low to the ground. They had a half-basement where apparently some vapors had built up enough to ignite when they lit the floor furnace. These people are very lucky."

Moore said the structure became very unsteady after the blast, which flung debris far from the house and caused the front porch to collapse. No damage to nearby structures was reported.

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