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Blast at Vernon home caused by propane line leak

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VERNON - Fire investigators say a propane gas leak apparently caused an explosion that leveled a Vernon home, injuring seven people.

Vernon Fire Marshal Adam Libros said Saturday afternoon that the gas line was supplying a dryer in the home's basement. He said it's not immediately clear what ignited the gas and that the investigation is ongoing.

Thursday's blast flattened the two-story residence and sent debris flying.

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Detectives and federal agents have been combing over the scene at the corner of East Street and East Main Street since Thursday afternoon. Cleanup efforts have been slow and steady as investigators worked to nail down exactly how the explosion occurred.

Police officers have been posted at the scene around the clock, protecting evidence at the scene so that investigative efforts can continue without interruption.

See how these two first responders described the scene as they pulled victims from the rubble.

All of the victims are expected to survive. Seven people were hospitalized after being pulled out from beneath scattered and heavy debris. Their identities are still being withheld until police, fire and federal inspectors wrap their investigation. The family has set up a GoFundMe page for help with donations.

Witnesses did not report seeing any flames, but 911 calls made in the immediate aftermath all indicated hearing a loud bang before the explosion. Listen here for 911 calls made by neighbors who witnessed the crash. Listen here for 911 calls made by terrified neighbors who witnessed the crash.

Police said it is a miracle that none of the people occupying the home at the time were killed.

Federal and state investigators returned to the two-story home Saturday to resume their investigation into what caused the Thursday blast that flattened the Vernon residence, sent debris flying and injured seven people, including four children.

Police Lt. William Meier said two 12-year-old girls have been discharged from the hospital, while a 15-year-old boy and a 7-year-old boy remained hospitalized but were listed in good condition.

Meier said 35-year-old Nicole Kerstetter remained in critical condition Saturday, and a 23-year-old man was in intensive care but his condition has improved to stable.

A 60-year-old man refused medical treatment at the scene. Kerstetter was the only one of the victims whose names were released.

The Kerstetter family issued a statement;

“Words cannot justify how grateful I am to the Vernon, Ellington and Tolland Fire Departments, Vernon Police Department, the CT Search and Rescue Team, all members of EMS, all first responders and neighbors who jumped in after the house explosion for saving the lives of my family members on East Street in Vernon. All those involved in the search and rescue are truly HEROES. Their acts of heroism, along with their bravery and courage will be with the Kerstetter family eternally.”

-Matt Kerstetter, family member