Officials have released the identity of the woman killed in a Van Zandt County house explosion Sunday night.
Rita Armstrong of Mabank was the only person in the house at the time of the incident, which investigators have determined to be an accident.
On Sunday, multiple fire departments responded to the home explosion between Canton and Mabank. Investigators were on the County Road 2430 explosion scene, just north of Mabank, for more than five hours. According to authorities, Armstrong, an elderly woman, died in the explosion. Neighbors add that Sunday's incident was not the first time they've watched the couple's house go up in flames.
Monday, the Van Zandt County Fire Marshal's office determined that a gas leak was to blame. The investigation revealed a partially open propane valve on a line that ran into the residence that was not being used. The fire marshal says the propane vapors seeped into the house and ignited just moments after the resident returned home. Arson dogs helped authorities rule out any criminal intent in the explosion.
"It sounded like a sonic boom... like it was right over the top of this house. It shook this entire trailer," explained neighbor Robert Dearick.
Dearick said the elderly couple who lived in the home had lived there for more than three decades, and they'd just rebuilt in the last few years after another fire burned their home to the ground.
According to Robert, his daughter had just dropped off the elderly woman who was killed in the explosion after taking her to visit her husband in the hospital.
"By the time my daughter got down here and went in [her] trailer, that boom went off and she came running out of the trailer and told me to call 911," recalled Robert.
Another neighbor added that just seconds after the explosion, her son ran across the street and pushed past the property's fence trying to get to the elderly woman inside of the burning home, but the flames were just too intense.
"Fire jumped about as high as, well, about 10 feet above the house. Then it turned to black smoke and just burned on up," said Robert.
Saturday, July 26 2014 2:09 PM EDT2014-07-26 18:09:07 GMT
A mysterious 'Woman in Black' has been spotted around the Tri-State in recent days, causing social media to erupt with questions about her identity. According to WATE in Tennessee, the Sullivan CountyMore >>
A mysterious 'Woman in Black' has been spotted around the Tri-State in recent days, causing social media to erupt with questions about her identity.More >>