Propane gas explosion kills woman, injures two others in Anne Arundel

July 12, 2000|By Nancy A. Youssef and Rafael Alvarez | Nancy A. Youssef and Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF

A 72-year-old Anne Arundel County woman died last night and two others were injured in an apparent propane explosion that leveled the family's house in the 300 block of Poplar Road in Millersville.

Anne Arundel County fire officials said Betty Sawyer was thrown from the split-level house - the roof lay in the middle of the debris - into the front yard about 7:10 p.m. last night and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Also injured in the blast were Sawyer's husband, Robert, 74, and the couple's 40-year-old son, Thomas Nelson Sawyer - known as Nelson - who family members said was doing work in the basement when the explosion occurred.

Both Robert and Nelson Sawyer were flown by helicopter to the burn unit at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. They were in critical condition last night.

"I saw the house - it blew up from the inside," said Derric Schaefer, 19, who was eating dinner at his house across the street when the explosion occurred. "The house swelled. It looked like a balloon. It happened in an instant, but it seemed like slow motion."

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