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Published: Sunday, September 06, 2015 @ 5:07 PM
Updated: Sunday, September 06, 2015 @ 11:08 PM
LANIER TWP., Preble County — UPDATE @ 11 p.m.
A backyard Labor Day Weekend barbecue turned a family celebration into a tragedy this evening in Preble County.
The Landerer family home is destroyed after their grill caught fire around 4:45 p.m. and exploded, spreading to the house in the 1600 block of Conley Drive.
“I have a grandson that’s back from Afghanistan — served in Afghanistan, served in Iraq — so we were having a cookout for him,” said Walter Landerer, who was grilling 36 hamburgers at once for the 50 people in attendance when the grill caught fire.
He ran inside for the fire extinguisher, but when he returned the propane tank hose had burst and it was hissing, Landerer said.
“I told everybody to run. When we got to the front of the house it started a big rush fire and then the tanks started blowing up,” he said.
Firefighters from West Alexandria, Eaton, Lewisburg and Gratis responded to the blaze, which West Alexandria Fire Chief Jeff Shafer said could have been prevented.
“You don’t want to have any kind of grill or anything with a canopy of any type and fans blowing on top of it,” Shafer said.
When firefighters arrived, the back of the house was engulfed and the flames were spreading quickly, making it a tough fire to fight coupled with the hot and muggy weather.
“The severity of the fire was one, but also the heat conditions were so I had guys dropping like flies. We had to bring in additional resources to keep our guys fresh,” Shafer said.
Two firefighters had to be treated at the scene by medics for possible heat exhaustion. They had to work to stay hydrated and get cooled off with crews of six rotating frequently, the chief said.
The homeowners were scheduled to get a new roof for his house on Tuesday, but that is moot now that the home is a total loss.
“We’re going to miss the pictures and stuff,” Landerer said. “That’s going to be the hardest part. The rest is replaceable and everyone’s lives are OK.”
Landerer did manage to salvage some of the food, including a special steak for his grandson.
A barbecue grill exploded early this evening, causing fire to spread to a home on Conley Drive near West Alexandria.
When fire crews arrived just before 5 p.m., there was heavy smoke in the area and the back of the house was engulfed.
West Alexandria and Eaton firefighters have responded to the scene, and an engine crew was requested from Gratis.
There are no reports of injuries.