Survivor of 2nd Mississippi Co. Home Explosion Improving

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KEISER, AR (localmemphis.com) – One of the victim’s in Saturday’s deadly house explosion in Keiser is improving.

Roger Willbanks is at Regional One Medical Center in Memphis and has been upgraded to fair condition. 

His 90-year-old mother, who was also in the home, was killed in the blast.

Investigators believe a gas leak was to blame.

This was the second explosion in the county in less than a week.

The first was less than 10 miles away in Osceola.

Debbie Porter was injured in that explosion and remained in serious condition early Monday.

Investigators say both blasts could have been linked to gas used to heat the homes.

In the Osceola explosion, 8 homes were damaged. Natural gas was used to heat that home.

In the second explosion Saturday in Keiser, a propane heater was in use. 

Keiser Fire Chief Joseph Richmond says most of the homes in town are heated with propane, electricity or wood.

But whatever the heat source, Chief Richmond says you should get it checked out once a season.

“As sort of heating sources go, they are all probably as equally safe as anything else. It’s just like your car going down the road. If it’s maintained properly you are probably going to be okay,” he says.

Richmond says propane isn’t any more dangerous than other types of heat. Besides Saturday’s blast, the town has had one other propane explosion.

“We’ve had two instances. A previous instance here dealing with the propane explosion, and that was homeowner error, so no issue with the propane or heat source itself,” he says. “I guess if you believe in coincidences, that’s the only thing you can say. It’s odd, definitely, it’s odd. The last one we had here was 2004, 10 years ago. It’s rare.”

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