Woman narrowly escapes bug bomb explosion

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March 16, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---It was a close call for a south Augusta woman after an unusual explosion in her house.

Lois Garnett set up a bug bomb in her kitchen, and firefighters say she forgot to turn off the pilot light on her stove, which caused the blast.

It's a common but deadly problem, and there are some things fire officials say you need to keep in mind before putting out the units...because the bugs are not the only ones that could end up dead.

"It says everywhere: caution, make sure all gas and pilot lights are turned off, make sure electricity is turned off," said battalion chief Tommy Willis of Augusta Fire/Rescue.

Chief Willis is pointing out what would seem obvious, but if that were the case, this explosion on South Kensington Drive may not have happened.

This morning, as Lois Garnett walked to her driveway, a huge explosion came from her kitchen area. The reason: fumes from a bug bomb ignited flames from a stove pilot light.

Chief Willis says that the explosion spread pretty quickly: "You can tell here just from the explosion, it blew out the windows, it blew the brick off the wall, it blew the ceiling up into the attic..."

It's not too difficult to trigger an explosion, and it could happen without warning.

"You go in and you're fumigating and your cell phone is sitting here on your shoulder, and the cell phone rings," Chief Willis said. "If you have the slightest spark, you know, we can't sit here and say it takes a big spark, no, the slightest spark, and they say keep away from sparks and open flames."

Chief Willis adds that the most important step to take in preventing an accident is simple: read directions.

"My biggest advice is read and take heed to the warnings," he said. "Don't just shortcut, it because a shortcut could be a short bomb."

Garnett was not hurt or injured, and no one else was in the home.

Chief Willis tells us that in more than 30 years, he's never seen a case like this in Augusta, but the problem is common throughout the United States.

If you have any questions, you can always call the fire department.

Here's what you need to know if you plan to use bug bombs.

First, you should turn off electricity, gas and other appliances.

Next, read the labels properly and don't use too many units. If it says one, use only one.

Make sure you cover items properly.

And, of course, the best advice is to call a professional.

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