Propane leak suspected in Cooking Lake house explosion, fire official says

A house explosion near Cooking Lake, Alta., that killed a 39-year-old woman may have been caused by a propane leak, fire officials say.

The explosion happened at about 2 p.m. on Sunday in a home near Range Road 224 and Township Road 513.

Strathcona County Emergency Services arrived to find the home demolished, with debris scattered across the property, including 2×4 boards on the roof of the neighbouring home.

Emergency crews rescued a 60-year-old man, who suffered burns and was transported to an Edmonton hospital.

The body of a 39-year-old woman was pulled from the rubble.

“To our crews, it appeared she had suffered trauma from the explosion,” said Tim Moen, deputy chief of Strathcona County Emergency Services.

A Google image captured in August 2012 shows what the home looked like before the explosion. (Google Street View)

Fire investigators and the RCMP continue to investigate the cause of explosion.

“We do know that the house was heated with propane, and it was not attached to the gas line, gas utility,” said Moen. “So there’s speculation that it may have been a propane explosion. But it’s too early to tell.”

The condition of the roof after an explosion can tip off investigators about a possible gas or propane explosion, said Moen. In a gas explosion, the roof is usually blown to pieces, while that doesn’t happen with a propane explosion.

“Typically, [with propane] we see the walls get blown out and the roof often remains intact,” he said. “This is consistent with a propane explosion. But again, it’s too early to tell exactly what caused it.”

Moen said it’s only the second such explosion he’s aware of in Strathcona County over the past 25 years.

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