Just a little after 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday volunteer fire-fighters in Zavalla were called to the scene of an explosion.
By the time they arrived the fire was the least of their concern.
“When our engine got here and our rescue truck got here we concentrated our efforts on patient care,” said Chris Wade, Chief for Zavalla VFD.
Thankfully the two victims were already in the care of their neighbors who responded with no hesitation.
One neighbor ran across the street to find one of the victims, Lyle West, was buried in the burning debris that once was his home.
He drug Mr. West out of the debris and onto the street away from the fire.
“I saw my neighbor running across the street, people yelling out there and him yelling back at them,” said Jim McKnight, who lives next door. “So I got on out there as fast as I could.”
The other victim, Elaine West, was in a neighbor’s yard.
“Mrs. Elaine West, was blown out the back,” said McKnight. “So I went after her she was yelling that she was hurt, then chaos from then on.”
Lyle West was flown to Galveston with serious injuries and Elaine West was transported to a Lufkin hospital for her injuries.
Zavalla VFD could only speculate as to what caused the fire but they believe it was possibly caused by a propane gas leak.
The explosion had people startled from all around even businesses located three to five miles away heard and felt the blast.
“We felt it and we heard it too,” said Nita Melton, a waitress at the Eagle’s Nest Cafe. “The windows shook that’s what scared us the most, we just didn’t know what happened.”
“I heard it in my house which is about eight miles away,” said Wade
“I never heard anything that loud, someone said they heard it in Broaddus and that’s about eight or nine miles from here,” said McKnight.
In addition to debris being scattered everywhere most of the neighbor’s homes were damaged by either the flying debris or the shockwave.
“Broken windows, windows out of place, doors as you can see messed up,” said McKnight. “But I got to make it livable, it’s supposed to be turning cold here today and tomorrow.”
Debris could be found all over the neighborhood and not just on the ground but in the trees as well.
“It reminds me of some of the pictures of the hurricanes, the damage from when the hurricanes blew through,” said McKnight.