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Woman escapes as her house explodes, burns

Woman escapes as her house explodes, burns
Woman escapes as her house explodes, burns
Little remains of Rita Ledford's brick house in the 4900 block of Union Chapel Road south of Corydon, following an explosion and fire about midnight Saturday. (Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor)

Rita Ledford had barely gotten in bed Saturday night at her home on Union Chapel Road south of Corydon when she heard a ‘Kaboom!’
‘The whole house shook,’ she said.
Ledford, 44, got up and ran into the kitchen to use the phone but it didn’t work. Ledford said she was aware that a door leading from the back of the house to the outside deck was blown open.
As she made her way back to her bedroom, she realized she was walking on ‘stuff’ on the floor.
‘I thought, ‘Oh, that could be glass,’ ‘ Ledford said.
Once in her bedroom, she stayed long enough to get her house slippers and cell phone. Then she got out of the house.
‘My cell phone doesn’t usually work from my house; I’m in a dead spot,’ she said. ‘But it worked that night. I called 911.
‘For the next two hours I watched everything I own go up in flames.’
Tim Shewmaker, chief of the Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Dept., said they were notified about 11:50 p.m. Saturday of a house fire. Heth Township Volunteer Fire Dept. was dispatched for mutual aid, he said.
Ledford, a native of Corydon who is the plant manager at IMI concrete business at the Harrison County Industrial Park, said she helped build her one-story brick house that has a basement. She’s lived there since February 1999, and the property was insured.
‘It was my pride and joy,’ she said. ‘I thought it turned out really nice. I spent a lot of time working on it.’
She already has plans to rebuild on the same property.
Ledford said Monday afternoon that Indiana State Fire Marshal Andy Long was ‘pretty sure it was a gas leak’ that caused the explosion and ignited the fire.
She was thankful the explosion and ensuing fire didn’t happen the previous weekend, when her two college-age children were home for the weekend.
Their bedrooms are located in the finished basement, she said, and she fears they wouldn’t have been able to get out of the burning house.
‘My kids are alive, and they still have a mother,’ said a thankful Ledford.
An empty apartment has been made available to Ledford, and she has been loaned a vehicle to drive. (Her 1998 Ford Explorer, parked in the attached garage, was destroyed in the fire.)
Ledford expressed her appreciation to the volunteer firefighters and everyone who has offered assistance since the fire.
‘It’s nice to know there are so many people who care in the community,’ she said.