WATAUGA COUNTY, N.C. — An investigation into the deaths of two Watauga County residents last week revealed they were killed when their home exploded following a gas leak that was triggered by a landslide.
Emergency officials were called last Wednesday about an explosion at the home on Pine Ridge Drive.
Crews found the home in pieces, and James and Audri Landford dead in the debris.
Heavy rainfall created a landslide that impacted the home, damaging the LP gas regulator that serviced the house, according to the investigation.
Officials said a strong odor of gas was detected at the home around 2:30 p.m.
Around 4:30 p.m., James Landford called Suburban Propane, who helped him turn off the LP supply at the tank, the report states. The Landfords then tried to ventilate the home of fumes.
Around 5:08 p.m., the power to a backup water heater was turned on, and the home exploded three minutes later.
Images from Chopper 9 Skyzoom showed that there was little remaining of the home in the Heavenly Mountain community near Boone.
Neighbors said the explosion shook other buildings in the area.
"I was about three blocks from where the boom actually occurred and I was just sitting there and all the sudden there was this blast,” neighbor John Fillinger said.
"Due to the complexity of the investigation, unstable conditions, and complications of severe weather; the investigation was lengthy," emergency officials said in a statement. "There have been many theories and much speculation about how this tragedy occurred. Our condolences to the families and friends of the victims including the residents of the Heavenly Mountain Community."
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