EATON TWP. – Billowing plumes of black smoke and bright flames attracted dozens of onlookers as a blaze destroyed a home in the Flint Ridge Estates neighborhood Monday afternoon.
Eaton Township Fire Department, assisted by multiple fire departments, responded to a 2:20 p.m. call of a house fire. Township Incident Commander Capt. Kevin Blair said the blaze was accelerated by exploding oxygen tanks and the cause is not yet known.
The 5,200-square-foot home, built in 1987 and with a market value of $493,000 per the county auditor’s site, was destroyed.
The explosions were heard some distance away. Gary Conlin, a resident on Eagle Nest Drive – roughly 600 to 800 feet from the home – said he not only heard the explosion but felt it.
While sitting in his living room, he said the explosion shook the ceiling fan and rattled the picture frames hanging on the wall. Colin described the explosions as a “very deep, loud sound,” like fireworks but even louder.
Homeowner Sandy Feiten said she was alone in her home located on 11178 Arrowhead Drive when she heard something like crackling. When the 64-year-old went to the front door to investigate, she discovered a fire beginning to spread near the front door. She called 911 and opened the back door for her pets, but she couldn’t confirm that the animals got out of the house.
Within 10 minutes of the firefighters’ arrival, the front of the home was engulfed. Within another 10 minutes, the entire house was in flames, followed by the first of the explosions.
Feiten said there were four explosions in total, the first from a large oxygen tank kept at the front door for emergencies. A few minutes later, three more explosions went off in the home.
Feiten said she keeps oxygen tanks in her home for medical purposes. Fire officials were able to remove 28 tanks from the house before the fire could reach them. Of the 28, three were small tanks filled with about 1,000 Psi of oxygen. The rest of the 25 large tanks were able to hold 2,000 Psi of oxygen, but only four of them were filled.
Feiten, who has no children, lives in the home with her husband Brian and their pets. She said she was only able to make it out of the house with just the clothes on her back and lost nearly every item she ever owned in the fire. They are insured, but Feiten said she has no idea where they will stay or what is next for she and her husband. She lost photos, furniture, craft supplies, paintings she’s collected.
That being said, Feiten accepted the misfortune she was dealt, taking the incident in stride.
“All of this can be replaced, and even if I don’t get the dollar amount for my paintings, who cares?” she said.
Fire departments from Carlisle Township, Elyria, Grafton Township and Grafton Village assisted in the fire. Due to lack of fire hydrants, Fire Departments from LaGrange Township, Oberlin city, South Amherst Township Wellington Township and Valley City provided water tankers. Firefighters spent more than two hours ensuring the fire was extinguished.
This story has been edited to reflect the following correction: Sandy Feiten opened the back door of the home where the fire hadn’t spread yet to exit and let her pets out.