1 killed, 1 hospitalized in early morning explosion

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Authorities believe a gas leak near a stove sparked a morning explosion that left one East Texan badly burned and his wife dead. Around 6 Tuesday morning, crews were called to the explosion on County Road 3104 in northeast Smith County.

A family member said that homeowner Travis Garner has been given pain killers and is conscious at Parkland. The family member adds that Garner suffered burns on 22% of his body, which is not as extensive as they had once feared. It's a diagnosis that's frankly amazing considering the damage to the home. Smith County fire marshals say the amount of propane that caused this blast is only a little more than someone may have in a backyard grill. But, that was more than enough to take a tragic turn.

"My cousin came banging on the door just a little bit before six wanting me to dial 911 because he said his house had blew up and it was on fire," said James Garner.

James Garner's cousin was 70 year old homeowner Travis Garner, who barely survived the blast destroying his home and killing his wife, jean.

"I was just thinking let me get to a phone and get someone out here to help him," said James.

Gladewater emergency crews were first on the scene, Smith County fire crews followed soon after putting out the flames. The home Travis built with his sons 30 years ago was gone. Flames spread to his nearby daughters home, claiming it as well.

"They did a lot of things for people, helping them, getting things for them," said James.

"Travis and Jean were the quietest most giving people I have known in years," said Elaine Roddy, who saw the couple every Sunday in church, teaching Jean in her Sunday school class. "We've all been saying Jean always gives the hugs wish we would've given her two instead of one."

Jean's spot will be empty this Sunday, but Elaine says her new seat is the best in the house.

"I was thanking the Lord that I knew exactly where she was he just took her away too soon," she said. "We will miss them. We will miss them."

Authorities say after the blast, Travis pulled his wife out the fire, put out the flames on her and drove a quarter mile to find help, but it was too late. Authorities say a two inch gap between the foundation and the home's floor was the enabling factor, letting the gas travel throughout the home. So, once it ignited, it hit everything at once.

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