Christmas Eve Explosion

Just 12 hours before our children were to move into our new home, there was an explosion and fire in our kitchen!

At about 1:30 am on Christmas Eve morning, Anna and I were sleeping at the new property because we have been so busy preparing the new home for the children so we decided to spend the night inside the main building. I was awakened by a thunderous noise followed by the crashing of pots, pans, and other metallic sounds. I knew it had come from the kitchen area and when I entered the dining room headed to the kitchen, I was stunned by the scene. We have a dutch door that leads from the dining room into the kitchen and the top half of the door is made of glass. All that I could see into the kitchen through that window were flames. I carefully open the door and was greeted with not one, but 5 separate fires all around the kitchen. The roof had completely collapsed and the fires were rapidly growing. We had a fire extinguisher nearby and I was able to put out 4 of the fires but I was unable to put out the 5th fire which was in the pantry because I was already having trouble breathing because of the smoke. Anna had found the night watchman, Hernan, and he was able to get to the pantry fire and extinguish it. Hernan had also heard the explosion, but he thought it had come from the Caterpillar factory which is at the bottom of the hill.

Outside the kitchen, on the loading dock area, the brooms and mops were also on fire…however, there was no visible way for the fire to reach out there. The door and window were still closed but even the 5-gallon drinking water jugs had melted. So we knew the blast had reached outside somehow. Up on the outside of the kitchen wall up near the ceiling, there is a crack that runs the entire length of the wall and we could see insulation pushed out through the crack. Our contractor realized that the ceiling was actually pushed up by the blast, causing the crack and allowing the blast to reach onto the loading dock, igniting the brooms and melting anything plastic on the dock.  

Seeing that crack and how the explosion caused it, we knew that the new roof had to be damaged…which it was.

What we discovered was that there had been a gas leak in a gas line in the ceiling above the kitchen. During the day, Anna and several of the older girls had been working in the kitchen setting up all the small appliances and dishes in preparation for the children moving in about Noon on Christmas Eve. I was not at the new property for most of the day as I was preparing to move our office furniture. That evening when I got back out to the new property, Anna and one of the older girls said they had smelled some gas. I was dealing with some congestion and I couldn’t smell anything so I wasn’t able to find any gas odor….but they were obviously smelling the gas leak.

We are profoundly grateful for the protection of the Lord! Had this happened just 4-5 hours earlier…the outcome would have been MUCH different! Anna and the girls would have been inside the kitchen and the blast and resulting fires would have caused serious injury and possibly even death. I was so proud of Anna through the ordeal as she maintained her cool and didn’t let fear consume her.

Please be praying for us… We must get the repairs underway ASAP. The children are living in the house now, because we had to vacate the previous house by December 31. We had no other option.

We don’t have any estimates yet. It is obviously going to cost thousands of dollars to not only make the repairs to the roof, the kitchen ceiling, replacing some appliances, etc., but to also replace the gas lines coming from the gas tank. The issue with the existing pipes is that they are galvanized pipes and are subject to rust and erosion, so we need to put in copper lines to all the house…not just the kitchen but also to all the water heaters in and around the house.

We thank God that there were no injuries or loss of life…and the damage was just done to “stuff”…not kids or adults…and the “stuff’ can be repaired or replaced.  

We will keep you updated as we move forward.

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