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For the week of Feb. 16 through Feb. 22, 2000

Greenhorn Gulch house explodes; owners escape


By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer

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An owner of a house near Greenhorn Gulch escaped with only singed hair and eyebrows yesterday morning after being thrown through the air by an explosion strong enough to move the house’s walls off its foundation.

The explosion caused a fire that gutted the kitchen and a second-story bedroom of the house, located just off Highway 75 in Hidden Hollow.

Commuter traffic on Highway 75 slowed to a crawl.

Wood River Fire and Rescue assistant chief Jeff Nevins said in an interview that the explosion was probably caused by natural gas, but that investigators have not determined anything more precise. The investigation was scheduled to continue today with the help of a deputy state fire marshal.

Nevins said his office received a call on the explosion at 5:06 a.m. He said firefighters from the Ketchum Fire Department’s station at Greenhorn were the first to respond, and were followed by firefighters from the Wood River and Hailey departments.

Nevins said a total of 29 firefighters had the fire under control by 7:18 a.m., and it was extinguished about an hour later.

"It was a real stubborn fire and a difficult house to get into," Nevins said.

Nevins said the house is owned by Bob Dougin and Kathy Miner. He said Dougin reported that he woke up at about 5 a.m. and smelled gas. According to Nevins, Dougin walked downstairs and opened a crawl space leading to the house’s furnace. Nevins said that while Miner began calling Intermountain Gas Co., Dougin walked away from the crawl space. He said the explosion occurred when Dougin was about 15 feet away from the crawl space, and threw him about 15 feet through the air.

Dougin was treated and released at Wood River Medical Center in Hailey.

According to Nevins, the house was sufficiently damaged that the county building inspector has condemned it. Nevins estimated the damage at about $250,000.

Nevins said that although investigators have been unable to find an "obvious cause" for the explosion, and have been unable to find a leak in the house’s gas pipes, he suspects that one of the gas appliances there may be at fault.

 

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