Explosions alert neighbors to house fire

Jan. 30, 2014 @ 08:30 AM

A series of explosions brought some residents of the Whitnel area out of their homes about 1:15 p.m. Wednesday to find a house aflame.

About a quarter of the house at 218 Countryside Drive, mostly in the back, was burning, and more explosions followed.

Lenoir Fire Chief Ken Briscoe said the explosions were probably caused by fuel tanks in the home, and he pointed out a few tanks of Freon that had been in the carport. The fire appears to have started around the house’s wood stove, making its way up the walls and into the attic.

The house is rented by Maye Bowen, who lives there with her son Gloe Bowen. Huddled in blankets to stay warm in the passenger seat of a nearby car as firefighters trudged hoses through the snow to extinguish the fire, Maye Bowen, who said she had lived there for 32 years, had little to say about the fire and the explosions, except, “It scared me to death.”

Bobby Cook, a next-door neighbor, said he heard about six explosions, which he said that sounded like gunshots or propane tanks.

Ann Locklear, Maye Bowen’s granddaughter, said she received a call from neighbors with the news that “Granny’s house blew up,” and she came directly from her home on Victoria Court, a short drive away. “I’m just glad she’s OK.”