WATERLOO – Authorities continue to investigate an explosion that destroyed a family’s house Wednesday night.
Lt. Ben Petersen with Waterloo Fire Rescue said everything points to a natural gas leak. But exactly what happened hasn’t been determined, and the city has contacted the State Fire Marshal Division to assist.
While the exterior walls of 1102 South St. remain intact, firefighters and investigators are hesitant to step onto the single-story home’s main floor because it’s in danger of collapsing, Petersen said. He said the floor joists were damaged, and firefighters noticed this when they initially entered the house Wednesday night while fighting the fire.
“The floor is sagging up to a foot in places,” Petersen said. The floor hadn’t collapsed, as had been reported earlier.
A mother, 39-year-old Linda Bokmij, and her daughter, Elizabeth, 9, were at the gas stove cooking when the blast erupted about 9:30 p.m.
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“Based on what she told us, she was cooking at the time, and the explosion came from the lower level, the basement,” Petersen said. Firefighters were able to get to the fire in the basement after entering the home through the attached garage.
Family members said they had noticed an odor similar to natural gas a day earlier, Petersen said. The occupants had attempted to track the smell but were unsuccessful, he said.
The explosion broke windows, moved the wall to the garage about a foot and blew insulation across West Ninth Street.
The mother and daughter suffered burns and cuts but were able to flee the house on their own. Two sons had been outside taking out the garbage at the time. They were taken to Covenant Medical Center for treatment.
The American Red Cross is assisting the family with emergency shelter.