By BRIAN BOHNERT
FOR THE COURIER
BETTSVILLE — Bags of charred family photos were all that remained of a Bettsville home Thursday after an early morning explosion reduced the 58-year-old structure to nothing more than ashes and rubble.
The home was unoccupied and no one was injured.
Built in 1956 by the late Page Mader, the house at 101 Monroe St. was completely destroyed after an apparent natural gas leak caused an explosion, engulfing the home in fire and smoke.
“It’s just an awful loss,” said a stunned Richard Mader, Page’s son. “You live there for years and years and then it’s gone.”
The explosion was reported at about 8:15 a.m. Thursday when neighbors heard a thunderous boom followed by towering flames.
Stan Poe, 112 Union St., said he smelled the pungent odor of natural gas just before 7 a.m. when he stepped outside to start his wife’s vehicle.
Thinking nothing of it, he returned to the warmth of his home until he heard sirens approaching the neighborhood.
Mike Snell, assistant chief of the Bettsville Volunteer Fire Department, declined to comment on an official cause of the explosion, saying it was under investigation.
No one was living at the residence at the time of the blast.
The structure had been vacant for nearly three years following Page’s death, Poe said.
Bettsville, Kansas, Bascom and Old Fort fire departments were at the scene battling the blaze with three other units on standby, Snell said.