Woman killed, husband injured in Arundel blast

July 08, 1991|By Lorraine Mirabella

An explosion, apparently caused by a propane leak, ripped through the Pasadena home of an elderly couple yesterday evening, killing the wife.

Martha Budzynski, 75, died at North Arundel Hospital after rescuers took her from the house, Anne Arundel County fire officials said.

When about two dozen firefighters arrived at 623 Opel Road shortly after 5 p.m., they found that the roof had collapsed into the 2-story, wood-frame and masonry cottage. The rear, right side of the house had a large, gaping hole, officials said.

Firefighters rushed into the living room, where they found Mrs. Budzynski unconscious on a couch, sprinkled with dust and debris. Within minutes, they pulled her from the charred, smoky house and administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation, said Capt. Michael Schaal, a fire department spokesman.

But Mrs. Budzynski was pronounced dead later at the hospital, he said.

Fire investigators believe the explosion was caused by a propane gas leak. The couple used propane to fuel their stove, and there were two tanks in the rear of the house, said Captain Schaal.

The victim's 74-year-old husband, Edward L. Budzynski, was found lying on the driveway by neighbors who rushed to his aid and tended cuts at the back of his head and enfolding him in a blanket. Mr. Budzynski was also taken to North Arundel Hospital, where he was listed in good condition last night, Captain Schaal said.

Dazed and bleeding, Mr. Budzynski told his neighbors, "My wife is in the house. My wife is in there," according to Rick Betters, who lives next door.

The neighboring houses along Opel Road did not sustain any damage, although glass and other debris could be found on their lawns. Many neighbors said they were in their homes when the explosion occurred.

Mr. Betters said the first thing he heard was "a big whooshing sound, like a jet had taken off." When he walked outside, he saw the Budzynski house "going all to pieces." Then he saw his neighbor, Mr. Budzynski, lying in the driveway. He rushed toward him. The older man said his wife was still inside.

Mr. Betters ran into the house, stepping over insulation and debris, but he couldn't find Mrs. Budzynski. He said the house "was a mess, with walls pushed in this way and that way."

Another neighbor, Raimondo Constantino, had fallen asleep while watching a baseball game. Then he heard what "sounded like a bomb."

"I thought a plane had crashed. It shook the whole house," said Mr. Constantino, who lives across the street from the Budzynskis.

Captain Schaal, of the Fire Department, estimated the damage to the Budzynski house at $200,000. He said officials will have to stabilize it today before investigators can enter it to finish their probe.

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