Family Disagrees With State Police Report on House Explosion

It’s been nearly a year since a house in Vernon exploded with a family inside.

Eleven months later, the Connecticut State Police investigation has wrapped up and the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters took a look at the report.

But the family told NBC Connecticut through attorneys that they disagree with the findings inside the report from the State Police Fire Explosion Investigation Unit.

The Kerstetter family home on East Street in Vernon was destroyed by a liquid propane gas explosion blew up in August. Three adults and four children were inside.

Then fire chief, now Fire Marshal Bill Call remembers it vividly.

“I heard at least four-five trapped in building, some self-extricated and a child in front of the home."

Luckily everyone healed and picked up the pieces with help from the community.

State police concluded the explosion was caused by a gas leak from a quarter-inch hole in an appliance line connecting a basement dryer to the propane line.

According to the report, a neighbor told investigators he ran over and shut the valves on the tanks off when the explosion happened, and rushed to help homeowner Steven Kerstetter, who told troopers later that his bedroom wall blew out.

"As I went through the wall and into my backyard I saw that my house was in pieces. My attention immediately turned towards finding my family and making sure they were okay. I started to dig through the debris and tried to find my daughter and her kids. I could hear my families voices coming from underneath the debris,” Steve Kerstetter said in that state police report.

The report notes that it is unclear what caused the hole in the appliance line, and that it is next to impossible to determine what ignited the explosion.

NBC Connecticut asked Call, who was not involved in the state police report, to weigh in.

“It could be anything, it could be static electricity someone could have flipped on a light switch, he hot water kicked on, there's so many factors involved with combustible gases probably never ever, ever pinpoint exact cause of ignition," he said.

The Kerstetter family’s attorneys Alisha Mathers and John Laudati disagreed. They released the following statement to NBC Connecticut:

“We have reviewed the report and the conclusions set forth in the State Police investigation into the cause of the August 4, 2016 explosion at our home. We have also consulted with independent experts, with whom we shared our personal experiences and knowledge regarding the events leading up to the explosion. At this time, we respectfully disagree with the conclusion of the Connecticut State Police and have directed our attorneys to fully investigate the cause of the explosion and specifically, to explore alternative theories which we feel are more consistent with the facts and information that have been presented.

As we have not had a formal opportunity to thank all those who provided help and assistance to our family during that time, we wanted to send a very heartfelt thank you and extend our deepest gratitude to everyone for the support, love and most generous contributions and donations. Our family is eternally grateful and will remember always how the community came together to take care of us. Thank you,”

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