, Muskogee, OK

February 4, 2013

Man hurt in blast at house

Lone occupant in critical condition at hospital

By Josh Newton

— TAHLEQUAH — A Cherokee County man was in critical condition Sunday morning after his house exploded Saturday night in the Briggs area.

Authorities said Jeff Saddler was home alone when the explosion occurred. The blast could be heard several miles away, and sent debris in all directions.

Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault said his family felt the explosion from their house a mile away from the scene. He said insulation from the home was found at least a half mile from the explosion, which was east of TNT Grocery on Oklahoma 51, east of Tahlequah.

“From what we have seen so far, it appears to have been a propane explosion,” Chennault said. “The house is a total loss.”

Investigators who arrived early Sunday to survey the damage believe the explosion was caused by a build-up of propane. Chennault said a gas cook stove had been installed in the home prior to the incident.

“We're not sure if that was the origin, but the investigators tell us it looks like it was an explosion from a low point in the house,” he said. “It blew everything into the air.”

First responders said Saddler was buried beneath debris from the floor. He was taken to Tahlequah City Hospital and then flown to a Tulsa hospital.

Chennault said Saddler had been living in the home for only about a week.

Pieces of the home's roof, clothing, and other items were scattered in nearby trees. A door was blown across the highway.

Josh Newton writes for the Tahlequah Daily Press.