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Friday, September 30, 2005

Fireplace Explodes While Woman Attempts To Ignite It

 A woman trying to light a gas fireplace ends up in the hospital after it explodes, sending glass 80 feet through the air.

Rebecca Smith's face is covered with cuts, scrapes and burns.

The explosion happened Thursday morning. Smith was getting her parent's fireplace ready for cooler temperatures. Smith father was in the kitchen eating breakfast at the time of the explosion.

"One hell of an explosion," he said.

The glass window of the fireplace shattered into thousands of pieces. Some pieces were found at the other end of the house -- 50 feet away.

Smith said her glasses shielded her eyes from the flying debris, probably saving her sight.

She said she doesn't remember much of what happened next.

"It knocked me back, but it didn't pick me up and throw me," she said.

Fireplace installer Jerry Isenhour Sr. said Smith should have taken the glass cover off the front of the fireplace and let the excess gas vent.

"If the gas ignites, all of the gas is going to ignite at one time. If all the gas -- a large residual in there -- it's going to create an explosion in that fireplace," he said.

Smith is glad to be alive.

"The burns could have been much worse. I thank God. This will heal," said Smith.

Isenhour said Smith made a simple mistake and it's one you could make, too.

Officials said 80 percent of the ones he sells are like the one involved in the explosion with glass.

He said to take the glass off before you light the pilot and get your fireplace inspected every year

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