House explodes near Tahlequah leaving 1 dead; authorities cite propane leak as the cause

House explodes near Tahlequah
Posted at 11:40 AM, Jul 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-27 19:48:16-04

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- Early this morning Danny and Lora Neldon were just beginning their day when they said they heard a loud boom coming from their neighbor’s home.

 “We saw the horses take off across the field and shook the house, lost power, shook stuff of the shelves, opened the doors to the house,” said Lora Neldon.

  The Neldons said they immediately rushed over to check on their neighbor, Bernard Goeser.
 after seeing what was left of his home, they knew it was bad.

“We were hoping, just hoping he was just injured and when we walked around the garage then the whole house was just gone, just gone,” said Neldon.

  When first responders arrived on scene they found Goeser’s body inside.

“There is very minimal fire damage. At this time we don’t believe it was criminal in nature, however we’re still going to complete the investigation,” said ATF Special Agent Ashley Stephens.

  ATF investigators said the damage is consistent with a gas explosion.

“We’re tracing electric lines, gas lines, any potential ignition source to help us identify the cause, origin of the fire the explosion could have been,” said Stephens.

Debris resembling crosses hang from a tree where Goeser’s home used to be. Appropriate, considering the conversation lora Neldon said she had with Goeser Tuesday night.

“He started talking to me about giving his life to the Lord and he was at peace and I don’t know why that came up last night, but it did,” said Neldon.

 Investigators said Goeser was in the process of remodeling his home before the explosion. His neighbors said he had only been living here for over a year.

The Cherokee County Sheriff Department says the victim, Bernard Goeser, was the only person home at the time. Officials believe the cause of the explosion was due to a propane leak. 

The house was on the eastern edge of Tahlequah near E 781 Rd. and River Dr.

Those in Cherokee County reportedly could hear the blast.

They went on to report that Tahlequah Fire Department, Cherokee Nation EMS, Cherokee County sheriff's deputies, the ATF and the state fire marshal are involved at the scene, reports the Tahlequah Daily Press.

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