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Fellowship hall explodes: No one hurt, propane leak suspected

SOUTH POINT — The congregation of the Lick Creek Baptist Church is grateful that a tragedy was averted on Sunday night, after a suspected propane leak led to their fellowship hall blowing up.

It happened around 7 p.m.

Pastor Mike DeMent was about to ring the church bell when there was a deafening explosion.

The 40 church members came out to find the fellowship hall turned to rubble. The explosion blew the front door about 30 feet. Insulation was blown nearly to U.S. 52 after the roof and wall collapsed. A window of the church was blown out. A camper parked next to the hall had holes in.

The only things left standing were most of the foundation and appliances like refrigerators and a stove.

Normally, before the church service, kids from two families play around the fellowship hall before the service.

They weren’t there like usual, since both families were running late.

“God definitely were protecting the children last night,” said DeMent on Monday morning as he surveyed the wreckage. “We thank God the families were late and the children weren’t down there for that. It would have been a tragic loss for our children to be hurt in something like this.”

He said they think it was a propane leak and that when a refrigerator kicked on, it caused an explosion.

The fellowship hall is set back from the church, separated by a driveway.

“We’re so glad it is detached,” DeMent said.

He said the hall was built in the early 1970s.

“And we had just remodeled it in June,” DeMent said. “It was all new on the inside, new cabinets and everything. The refrigerator was less than six months old.”

He said they plan on rebuilding.

“Oh, definitely,” DeMent said. “We need a fellowship hall.”

The Ohio Propane Association recommends that propane installation work be done by a certified professional.

If you smell propane, do not operate lights or phones and extinguish any open flames. Leave the area immediately. If it is safe to do so, turn off the main gas supply valve. Report the leak. Do not return to the building or area. Get a qualified technician to inspect the entire system to ensure it is leak-free.