House explosion injures 22-year-old |

House explosion injures 22-year-old

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A young man injured in a house explosion at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday was rushed to safety by construction workers who entered the burning structure.

Luke Little, 22, the son of Greg Little and Laurel Little, both of Glenwood, was seriously burned.

“They saved his life,” Greg Little said of the men who rescued his son from the flames.

Luke Little is expected to survive, but may have second-degree burns on 60 percent of his body.

Luke Little was treated Wednesday at Valley View Hospital, before being airlifted to the North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, a regional burn treatment center.

Doctors put Little into a drug-induced coma and on a breathing machine as preventive measures, his father said.

The explosion occurred at Laurel Little’s home on Riverview Drive, off Midland Avenue.

Luke didn’t live there, but stopped by to pick up some of his things. A smoker, Luke told his father he found an old lighter in the basement, and lit it to see if it still worked, when “everything blew up around him.”

“The whole house exploded,” Greg Little said.

Construction workers were busy renovating the home of Dan and Courtney Petre across the street when they heard the explosion.

Jerry Steele, 22, a Basalt electrician, was standing in the Petre driveway, and flying glass landed all around him.

The workers heard Little screaming from inside, and ran in to look for him.

John Doose, a Glenwood painting contractor, used fire extinguishers to control flames inside the garage, then found Little upstairs in the kitchen.

“He was trashed; he was in bad shape,” Doose said. “He was walking around in circles. He was totally in shock – shell-shocked.”

Steele and Doose pulled Little down the stairs and out the door, moments before fire spread through the house. Without their help, said Doose, “he wouldn’t have made it, no doubt about it.”

“It certainly sounds to me like they hung it out on the line a little bit, and charged in and got this guy out. With flames showing, that’s pretty gutsy,” said Glenwood Springs police chief Terry Wilson said.

While at the house, Scott Steele, Jerry’s father, said he noticed that the gas meter gauge was spinning rapidly and shut it off.

Glenwood Springs fire chief Mike Piper said it seemed to be a natural gas explosion.

Luke Little was the only person inside at the time of the blast, although four dogs also were inside. Two suffered at least minor burns, Greg Little said. A third had been located, and a pit bull remained missing as of later Wednesday afternoon.

The house was heavily damaged, with windows and doors blown out and flame damage on the bottom floor. A garage door rested on a car parked outside, and window screens littered the yard.

Piper said the home may not be salvageable, and damages may total $300,000 to $400,000.

Firefighters brought the fire quickly under control after their arrival.

Piper said firefighters checked for a leak in a main gas line. None was found, and no evacuations were required. A home next door suffered minor concussion damage from the blast.

Despite the severity of Little’s injuries, his father is hopeful about his ability to recover.

“He’s a toughie. If anyone can battle it, he’ll do it,” he said.

The workers who risked their lives gave only passing thought to the courage they displayed. Scott Steele said he was proud of his son’s actions.

Doose relied on 30 years of experience as an emergency medical technician. He said they improved their chances by knocking down the fire and turning off the gas.

Also a longtime ski patrolman, he’s helped saved lives before, including the life of a Glenwood man who tumbled down Mount Evans while skiing two years ago. Doose and others treated the man’s injuries and carried him down to rescuers.

He said coming to the aid of others may just be his purpose in life.

“The thanks and everything is great, but it’s just so satisfying to help somebody in need,” he said. “What can you say? Anybody would have done it, right?”

Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516

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