Report: Spark of Home Explosion Still Unclear:

Oily rags possibly contributed to fire at legislator's home; cause officially undetermined.
2013-01-03T02:15:00Z 2013-01-03T12:58:59Z Report: Spark of Home Explosion Still Unclear:BY LAURIE WELCH - lwelch@magicvalley.com Twin Falls Times-News

BURLEY •A report released by the state fire marshal Wednesday concludes that oily rags at Rep. Fred Wood’s home possibly could have self-ignited and caused a Sept. 29 explosion.

But investigators settled on no single cause for the incident, which injured Wood’s wife, Amy, and damaged their house.

According to the report, the cause of the fire will be considered “undetermined” unless new or different evidence is discovered.

Amy Wood received second-degree burns during the fire that occurred in a gun vault room in the basement of the couple’s southeast Burley home.

According to the report, the explosion lifted a 4-inch concrete ceiling up about 3 inches and outwards about an inch, enough to “see exterior daylight,” above the 11- by 16-foot gun room where the explosion occurred. The house’s patio roof then collapsed on the concrete slab.

Previously, Fred Wood described the room as a secure storage area where he keeps valuables, including guns, cameras, binoculars, collectible magazines and jewelry. It also included smokeless gunpowder and gun-cleaning solvents.

“I had absolutely nothing unique in there that anybody who reloads their own ammunition doesn’t have,”he said in October.

According to the report, the room had wooden shelving built around the majority of the interior wall space. There were two metal gun safes with guns in them and many other guns in cases leaning up against the shelves or on the shelves in the room, the report reads. There were all calibers and types of ammunition, gun cleaning supplies, black powder cans, bulk smokeless powder and large amounts of corks in cardboard boxes along with other unknown contents in the room.

The report states Wood went hunting about a week before the explosion and cleaned the guns with rags in the room on the Sunday prior to the incident. That was the last known time anyone had been in the room.

When investigators inspected the scene, no samples were taken and no single ignition source was determined, according to the report.

The report states it’s “possible the rags may have self-heated until they ignited” and because of the contents in the room, caused the explosion.

The report also notes spray cans of WD-40 and other cleaning solvents that may have been flammable.

This isn’t the first time the rags have been mentioned as a possible fire source. Burley Fire Chief Keith Martin suggested the rags as the culprit early in the investigation.

The report details the events just before the explosion. Fred Wood had been using a grill on the patio to cook dinner. The couple had just sat down for dinner when they heard a noise and he went downstairs to the gun room door.

The report states Wood could feel pressure against the door and did not open it. Meanwhile, Amy Wood went out onto the patio to see if the noise was coming from there, and was injured when the explosion lifted a portion of the slab up and flames from the fire engulfed her.

The report concludes heating and electrical appliances were not a factor in the fire. No ground-level rooms at the single-story home had indications of fire damage, and other rooms in the basement “had very little damage,” the report states.

According to the report, the home was insured.

Amy Wood was released from the University of Utah’s Burn and Trauma Center about three weeks after the explosion. After a short stay in Salt Lake City, they moved to a second home in Boise, where they plan to stay until the end of the 2013 legislative session.

Fred Wood could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday evening on the report.

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