FRONT ROYAL, Va. (AP) - An explosion obliterated a mobile home
early Thursday, killing two people and injuring two others,
authorities said.
The blast happened shortly after 6 a.m. near the intersection of
U.S. 522 and Interstate 66 in Warren County, about 70 miles west of
Washington, D.C.
A man and a woman who were inside the mobile home were killed in
the blast, and a nearby resident and a firefighter suffered minor
injuries, said authorities. The Sheriff's Office identified the
woman killed as Dorothy Windle Donovan, 77, who lived in the home.
Relatives said the other victim was her husband, Leonard Donovan.
The mobile home was "completely gone, blown apart," Richard
Mabie, Warren County's fire chief, said at a news conference.
Authorities were investigating the cause of the initial
explosion. Sheriff Daniel McEathron said nothing has been ruled
out, but they have no reason to believe the explosion was
intentional or criminal. Mabie said propane and oxygen tanks, which
were at the home for medical reasons, might have been involved in
the explosions.
A charred oxygen tank was among the debris scattered about the
mobile home site. Hundreds of green, red and gold Christmas bows
dotted the ground, and a garden gnome was stuck in the ground with
its head blown off. A street sign marking the intersection of two
gravel roads was driven sideways into the ground.
"When I first arrived, I'd never seen anything like it. There's
nothing left at this residence, just debris," McEathron said.
Debris was scattered 300 to 500 feet from the site of the
initial blast and as high as 80 feet in the trees. A nearby home
was badly damaged and three others sustained light damage.
McEathron said people reported hearing the explosion from at
least a mile away.
Angela Blankenship, 33, of Front Royal, lives less than
one-quarter mile from the site and said she had just awakened when
"My husband turned to look out the window and kaboom, he saw a
white light."
The power in the area went out as a result of the explosion,
which Blankenship said shook her house with such force that it
rattled a phone off the wall, hitting her 13-year-old daughter in
the head.
Rich Barkey of Winchester was opening a nearby lumber store when
he heard the second explosion after seeing fire trucks respond to
the first. He looked up to see flames shooting more than 100 feet
high, above a row of evergreen trees, he said.
He said the second explosion "was powerful enough to make the
doors rattle" in the store. "I don't like to use the word
impressive, but it was actually impressive to see the flames."
State police closed a stretch of northbound and southbound 522,
then reopened the road after the fire was extinguished less than
one hour later.
Between 17 and 20 people were displaced from their homes and
were offered temporary shelter from the American Red Cross,
officials said.
State police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives were called to help investigate the explosion.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)