Bob and Shannon Lahey were fast asleep about 5 a.m. Tuesday in their Troy Township home when an explosion that sounded like an airplane crash woke them up.
Minutes later, Mrs. Lahey was calling 911 to report an explosion and a fire at a neighbors’ house, and Mr. Lahey was pulling a neighbor from the rubble of a house about 200 yards from his property.
The blast and fire at 23415 Stony Ridge Rd. near Strail Road killed two and injured three, authorities said.
Officials were still notifying family members Tuesday night. However, two of those injured were identified as James Richards, an owner of the home who was in his early 50s — he was discharged from Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo — and Nicholas Schulte, 35, who was listed in critical condition there.
Mr. Schulte is the son of Jahn Richards, Mr. Richards’ wife.
An official cause of the blast has not been determined, but Troy Township fire Chief Randy Woodruff said that leaking liquid propane from a tank at the residence appears to have caused the explosion.
“With the destruction from the explosion, I don’t know if they’ll ever be able to make a determination,” Chief Woodruff said.
Some of the debris was thrown more than a quarter mile south of the scene, authorities said.
“We woke up this morning to a big boom,” Mr. Lahey, 40, a self-employed contractor, said. “I actually thought it was an airplane that crashed."
When they looked out the window and saw fire, they jumped into their car and Mr. Lahey drove while his wife called 911, he said.
When they arrivwed at the nearby scene moments later, Mr. Lahey saw his neighbor drag someone from the debris.
“I ran over and helped him,” Mr. Lahey said. “Then the man of the house said, ‘Where’s my wife?’ And I ran around the house and in the back of the house I saw someone laying in debris and I dragged them out, got them away from the fire.”
The man’s wife was still missing, Mr. Lahey said.
About 6½ hours later, Troy Township firefighters found a body during their search. Chief Woodruff said he believed the body is that of Mrs. Richards, who is in her early 60s. The other fatality was a man, who is her relative and who died upon arrival at the hospital, he said.
The woman’s body was found in the area of the master bedroom and bathroom, where Mrs. Richards reportedly was taking a shower about the time of the explosion, the fire chief said.
Mr. Lahey said Mrs. Richards and her husband shared the house with Mr. Schulte and another adult son, who were in their 30s and one of whom had a live-in fiancee. Chief Woodruff said that the men and the younger woman were taken to area hospitals, where one of the men died.
The five people in the home at the time of the explosion were not officially identified, but Wood County auditor records show that it is owned by James and Jahn Richards and other neighbors also said she was the woman who was missing.
Mr. Lahey said the family had lived at the address just south of Stony Ridge for more than 13 years.
Chief Woodruff said debris from the explosion has been spotted at least a quarter of a mile away from the home that was leveled in the 5 a.m. explosion. The fire was extinguished sometime before 9 a.m., he said.
“It’s a big debris field. Something like I’ve never seen before,” he said.
A representative of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation was on scene. Chief Woodruff said Troy Township firefighters were assisted by fire crews from Lake Township, Perrysburg Township, and Pemberville Freedom.
By Mike Sigov - The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (MCT)
Staff writer Taylor Dungjen contributed to this report.
©2013 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)
Visit The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) at www.toledoblade.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services