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After Home Explosion, Firefighters Warn Lake Tahoe Residents To Watch Ventilation Systems

KIRKWOOD (CBS13) — A vacation home near Kirkwood Mountain Resort exploded and went up in flames this afternoon. And neighbors say it's the second time it happened this week. Now officials are investigating to find out what's to blame.

"It doesn't happen often but in big snow years, things happen," said Frank Whatford, who lives near Dangberg Drive in Kirkwood.

Firefighters got the call just before 2 p.m. A neighbor called 911 to report a loud explosion and a raging fire in a nearby vacant home. Whatford saw the flames and started recording on his cell phone.

"First thing I thought is like 'what other time bombs are sittin' out there?'" Whatford said.

Hours after the explosion, the home is still smoldering and destroyed. CHP South Lake Tahoe posted pictures on Twitter and called the incident a gas explosion. But Kirkwood Volunteer Fire Captain Rick Ansel told CBS13 the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Additionally, firefighters have to wait until the smoke clears before they explore the inside of the home.

"There was nobody in the building and it seemed to be isolated to this one residence," Ansel said.

He said the last time an explosion like this happened was back in the 1980s and in that case it started with a propane leak.

"The problem in this instance, they haven't been up for a long time, so they haven't monitored or taken care of their snow removal," Whatford said.

The shocking part for local homeowners is that this is the second explosion on their street in one week.

"When that happened I was actually skiing on the mountain," said Anna Liedtka.

She said she found out from friends on Saturday that a vacation home on her street was on fire. Now she said she's convinced that an unattended home covered in snow is a recipe for disaster.

"This year has been very, very unusual for conditions," Liedtka said.

And with all of the extra snow piled up around these homes, Captain Ansel encourages all homeowners in the area to keep an eye on their ventilation systems.

"Just normal protection for your homes and also for your propane meters to make sure they are completely dug up because they do vent," he said.

Firefighters plan to be on Dangberg for several more days trying to figure out what happened. They believe the smoke is not going to clear anytime soon.

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