Cause of Lodge Explosion Still Unknown

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The exact cause of a massive explosion and fire that killed three children and injured 16 at a remote Delta County lodge last month may never be known.

Sheriff Fred McKee says the fire that followed a March 19th blast at the Electric Mountain Lodge near Paonia burned so hot -- that it likely erased clues to its cause. But McKee says there's no reason to believe the explosion was anything other than an accident.

Investigators are now all-but-certain that a propane leak allowed gas to build up in the lodge's basement. An unknown source ignited the gas, blasting doors, windows and people out of the building on a Saturday afternoon.

Several visitors had reported smelling gas up to two days before the blast, but no criminal charges are expected.

The explosion and ensuing fire killed 12-year-old Leslie Ann Bilbrey and her two-year-old brother, Isaac Michael Watkins, both of Paonia -- and their 16-year-old cousin, Jamie Marie Reade, of Kansas City, Missouri.

Authorities have recovered human remains. D-N-A testing is now under way to make positive identifications.


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