The State Police Fire Marshal has provided an update Sunday afternoon with additional details on the explosion:
The investigation of the explosion continues. Additional information has been gathered from the scene as a result of the collection of evidence over the past several days. This evidence strongly indicates that the explosion was the result of the propane supplied to the residence settling in the basement as a result of a leak. The specific area of the leak has not been identified and may only be revealed upon further forensic examination.
Evidence also strongly indicates, and supports, that the ignition source was likely related to an event in, at, or around the propane furnace. The atmosphere in the basement was within the proper limits of the leaking propane that a competent ignition source could have been nearly any event, from a spark, an arc event as simple as turning on a light switch, or any item producing a flame and even static electricity. It could also be the result of the gas furnace igniting as part of its normal operation. The evidence also supports that the blast wave produced as a result of the ignition and subsequent explosion, extinguished any remaining fire and the initial ignition source.
The lack of prolonged heat was not able to maintain combustion elsewhere in the house after the fuel of the propane was consumed. Fire and heat damage from the initial thermal event was located within the basement. The fire that was present several hours after the event was likely a result of heated material from the initial event, concealing itself in an area where the heat was unable to dissipate, and ultimately started to smolder. Additional examination of the components and propane system will now be the responsibility of the involved insurance companies as the scene has been released to them. At this time with the known information, no further criminal investigation is anticipated. The victim has been released from the hospital and continues to improve.
Both dogs also appear to be making a full recovery. Family and friends have worked tirelessly to gather and identify personal belongings of the victim.
Original post: Firefighters rushed to the scene of a house explosion on Stump Lane in North Heidelberg Township Friday morning just before 7:00 a.m. The incident left a 2 1/2 story single-family home with severe structural damage on two sides.
According to State Police, an occupant inside the residence had managed to crawl his way out from the rubble and ultimately walked to a neighboring residence to summon help. That occupant is being treated at Reading hospital for unknown injuries, but he is expected to recover. Two dogs were also in the residence at the time, both managed to escape, and they sustained minor injuries. A female dog ended up in the basement and managed to escape on her own.
Upon arrival fire crews found a house that sustained significant damage, including partially collapsed floors inside as well as two walls of the house, which buckled and sustained severe damage including a partial collapse. While at the scene a fire was also encountered later and required suppression tactics.
As a result of the unsafe conditions and being unable to access the scene safely, investigators used heavy machinery to deconstruct the scene to render it safe. As of Friday evening, the damage is extensive as the house is currently completely collapsed.
Police say the investigation is ongoing, and still in its early stages. Updates will be provided as the investigation progresses. The investigation is expected to take several days or weeks.
Authorities noted that natural gas is not supplied to the area of the scene. Propane gas is used to heat the residence.