DE SOTO, Mo. (KSDK) – Jefferson County authorities are investigating an explosion at a home in De Soto, Mo.
The explosion happened at a home in the 5200 block of Knorpp Road shortly after 2 p.m. Friday.
The home, located one mile east of Highway 21, is leveled, and Jefferson County investigators say the victim was trapped in the basement after the blast.
Three teams of arson investigators are now trying to figure out what caused the explosion. The deputy fire chief of the De Soto Rural Fire Department says neighbors about a mile away heard and felt the explosion. He says the victim, identified as James Hayes, is alive because passersby pulled him from the rubble.
Karen Knox and her granddaughter, Katherine heard a huge exploding noise, then they smelled the fire. Karen told her granddaughter to grab the keys, they were going to down the road to see what had happened.
They found a house burning and smelling like propane. They also found something else. A man was trapped in the basement of the home that had come crashing down on him. Katherine called 911.
"I took over the phone call and she climbed over the roof part. She and the gentleman who stopped pulled him out," said Karen.
Three good Samaritans pulled a stranger out of a burning home.
"The more and more scared I got the more my adrenaline went and the quicker we go him out," said Katherine.
"His nose, the skin was peeled off completely his cheeks, his arms, he had big chunks of skin hanging off his hands," said Karen.
They had James Hayes out before firefighters got there.
"The structure was in the basement there was nothing left," said Desoto Rural Fire Department Deputy Chief Eric Young. "He was staying in the camper behind the house because he's helping his son renovate."
"He was working on the electric, he had the electric turned off and when he went to turn it back on there was a propane leak. He did tell me the gas company came out Monday, they put 200 gallons of gas in the tank and they'd done a pressure check," said Karen.
"God was looking over him I guess. He's a lucky man," said Young.
The Knoxes say they were just in the right place at the right time. They don't think they're heroes. To Chief Young, what they did was nothing short of heroic.
Hayes, was airlifted to Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur with second and third-degree burns. He was talking to firefighters after he was rescued, and kept saying "Thank you." They say he is in a lot of pain.
Fire investigators finished their work. It could be Monday before we know what caused the explosion.