(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — (10-14-20) The Division of State Fire Marshal’s Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau is investigating an explosion that killed one woman and injured three others Sunday in Celina (Mercer County).

The explosion occurred at approximately 6 p.m. at 3741 County Road 716A, just south of the village of Montezuma.

Upon their arrival on scene, the Montezuma Fire Department discovered the single-story residence had been reduced to rubble with fire coming from the west side of the basement.

Killed in the explosion was Rosie McClurg (72) who was discovered by Montezuma firefighters after several hours sifting through the debris.

At the time of the explosion, three individuals next door were injured by falling debris.

Two of those people were treated and released from area hospitals.

The Montezuma Fire Department was assisted on scene by the Chickasaw, Coldwater, Celina, St. Marys Township, New Bremen, Burkettsville and St. Henry fire departments, as well as the Mercy County Sheriff’s Office,

Mercer County EMS, Mercer County Road Department and MCERV. While the origin and cause of the explosion remain under investigation, investigators were able to determine an unknown amount of propane gas was released and accumulated inside the structure.

State Fire Marshal Kevin S. Reardon

“It’s already starting to get colder, which means more and more people are going to start using propane and firing up their furnaces for the first time. Before the winter months set in, we want to urge all Ohioans to have their furnaces and other fueling-burning appliances inspected to avoid any potential dangers.”

The Montezuma Fire Chief, Lee Braun reports that his department is investigating a house explosion that had occurred at the address of 3741 County Road 716-A in Franklin Township, Mercer County Ohio.

Braun reports that the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call on October 11, 2020 at 1754 hrs that there was a possible house explosion and that there were a couple of injuries.  The Montezuma Fire Department, both Coldwater Squads and several other fire departments were dispatched to the scene.

Braun advised upon his arrival at the scene the house was totally leveled with debris scattered in all directions.  There were numerous fires around the area as well as in the basement area of the residence.  Initial crews were able to extinguish the fires.

Braun advised that it was learned that the occupants of this residence are Edward McClurg (73) and his wife Rosella “Rosie” McClurg (72).  Mr. McClurg was not home at the time of the explosion but Rosie was reported to have been home and was unaccounted for.  An extensive search was conducted by numerous fire departments in an attempt to locate Rosie.  At approximately 9:41 pm Rosie was located deceased in the basement of the residence under a lot of debris.  The Mercer County Coroner, Dr Timothy Heinrichs was contacted.

Braun advised that the neighbor’s were out on the patio at the time of the explosion.  One of them was struck by flying debris causing minor injuries.  Another suffered minor injuries due to the significance of the explosion.  Both were treated at local hospitals for their injuries and were later released.   

Braun advised that the preliminary findings are that the explosion was caused by a potential gas leak.  The primary fuel for this residence was propane.  The location of the leak and cause of the ignition for the explosion are still under investigation at this time.  The Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office was requested to assist with the investigation into this incident.  Several neighboring residences and outbuilding sustained significant damage from the explosion as well.

Chief Braun would like to thank all of the departments and agencies that were involved in this incident.  Braun would also like to thank the News Media for their patience in this matter and apologize for the delay in getting information out as this was a rather extensive operation. 

The Montezuma Fire Department was assisted at the scene by the following departments and agencies: Coldwater, Chickasaw, Celina, St Henry, Burkettsville, St Mary’s Township & New Bremen Fire Departments.  Coldwater Squad 7 & 10.  The Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office & Ohio Department of Natural Resources.  Also assisting were Mercer County Emergency Response Volunteers (MCERV), Mercer County Highway Department, Belna Petroleum & Midwest Electric.