Local News

Cause of Nash County explosion still unknown

Posted October 20, 2009

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— Nash County fire authorities still aren't sure what caused a home explosion two months ago that left a woman with burns on more than half her body.

Michele Allen, 36, was talking to her husband on the phone in her Sharpsburg home on Aug. 10 when the explosion occurred.

Neighbors reported hearing an explosion before seeing the flames and seeing Allen coming out of the house with her hair and clothes on fire.

She remains at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill for treatment of second- and third-degree burns on 62 percent of her body.

"We're just happy and blessed that she's alive, still," her brother, Brian West said. "She's basically going to have to learn how to do everything all over again."

West, a firefighter in Rocky Mount, said investigators still have not been able to determine the cause of the explosion but that they are looking at a possible propane leak.

Allen was renting the house and had moved in three days prior to the fire. The family is currently consulting with attorneys about what happened.

The house, at the intersection of N.C. Highway 97 and South Halifax Road, is owned by Rachel Whitley, according to county property records. WRAL News has tried unsuccessfully to reach her.


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