Oxygen tank explodes in Rowan Co. home, officials say

by: Paige Hansen Updated:

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GRANITE QUARRY, N.C. —

Firefighters said a Rowan County family is lucky to be alive after escaping an explosion and massive fire at their home early Monday morning.
 
The home is on Railroad Street in Granite Quarry.  The family, three teenaged boys and their father, said they didn't have time to grab anything as they left the house.
 
At 4 a.m. people nearby said they heard the explosion.
 
"It (was) just a big boom," David Pruett said. "I woke up and was like, 'What in the world was that?'"
 
The Granite Quarry Fire Department says people inside the now burnt-out home were smoking, and throwing cigarette butts out the window. 
 
The family told Eyewitness News they'd been asleep for hours when they awoke to the smell of smoke.  Firefighters say the cigarettes caused the shed attached to the home catch fire. At least one 20-pound medical oxygen tank inside the shed exploded and caused the home to burn, and the one next to it to catch fire, too.
 
"It's heart wrenching, it really is," Katelyn Newtown, who knows the family, said. "Memories are gone. It's sad."
 
Newton says she lives nearby and slept through the noise, but many other neighbors, some as far as two and a half miles away, say they heard the blast.
 
Dean Harwood owns the home next door and rents it to a young family.
 
"They were scared to death because she's got a son that's 9 or 10 and one that's just an infant," Harwood said.
 
He said he's thankful the damage to that home wasn't as bad, especially compared to what happened right next door.