One man dead, teenager airlifted to hospital after home explosion in McCall

One man dead, juvenile airlifted to hospital
Firefighters take in the blast site of a residence that exploded Sunday
Posted at 6:06 PM, Mar 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-19 04:26:09-04

MCCALL, Idaho — One person is dead and another is in the hospital after a propane explosion near the McCall golf club on Fairway Drive in McCall.

Officials responded to the explosion that destroyed a multi-story home at 4:19 Sunday afternoon.

A McCall Fire official says an adult man was killed in that explosion and a female juvenile was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition.

A couple we spoke to witnessed the explosion while out for a family walk. They say the home at the center of the explosion is now completely destroyed.

"There was a massive, massive explosion," Sarah Williams said. "It felt like we were getting nuked. I didn't know what was going on, and I was with my 3-year-old son, so I was like 'I gotta get him inside' because there was debris falling everywhere and we could see papers and insulation coming out and our whole yard was filling up with debris, so I wanted to get inside."

Sarah's husband, Ian, ran to the scene of the explosion hoping to help anyone who may have been trapped inside. He says there's a gaping hole where a home once was and all he could hear was a woman screaming.

"I can still hear it in my head," Ian Williams said. "I didn't want to be a gawker so I ran over in between the houses and climbed up over the debris to see if I could get down and help, but the flames were too high."

Williams was trying to rescue the woman, but firefighters told him to stay back because of the danger.

"There were two firefighters that went down to save the woman that was stuck down in the crater, and at that moment, when they got down there with their masks and everything, there was a secondary explosion," Ian said. "I'd say it was a 15 foot by 3 foot fire ball that shot over the top of them while they were saving her."

According to a press release from the McCall Fire Department, the blast destroyed the home and left a crater and debris field hundreds of yards across. Crews that arrived first received reports of the female survivor screaming for help from the back of the wreckage.

Two firefighters pulled the teen to safety from the burning rubble, shielding her from the heat and fighting fire using a pressure water fire extinguisher. The firefighters carried the teen to the McCall Golf Course parking lot where she was airlifted to St. Alphonsus' Trauma Center. As of 12:50 Monday morning, she remains in the Intensive Care Unit in critical condition according to St. Al's staff.

"I was just really proud of the guys that went in and were able to rescue this person," said Freddie Van Middendorp, the McCall Fire and EMS Captain. "They did and act of heroism that was beyond brave."

Homes on both sides of the blast were damaged from fire and broken windows. Sections of the ceiling collapsed inside neighboring homes and boards were found penetrating the roofs.

The Idaho State Fire Marshals office alongside acting McCall Fire Department Chief Garrett de Jong are working to determine the cause of the explosion.

"We don't know the cause of the blast, we can't say for certain that it's safe for neighbors and passerby's, walkers to be in this area," said Middendorp.

More information on the explosion is expected to be released in the coming days as the investigation continues.