UPDATE: Victim in House Explosion Dies

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UPDATE: The Rock County Coroner says Todd Purdy, a victim of Sunday night’s house explosion in Beloit, has passed away.

He has been in critical condition all week at a hospital in Madison.

His wife Tara suffered minor injuries when the home they were renting suddenly exploded. An improperly installed stove caused a serious gas leak.


BELOIT (WIFR) -- We’re hearing for the first time, the desperate calls for help during Sundays house explosion in Beloit.

More than 20 calls were made to the dispatcher Sunday. A lot of people were very confused when they heard the explosion. Some had no idea, two people, Todd and Tara Purdy were trapped inside.

“Rock County 9-1-1, what is your emergency?
Caller: Yes, Emergency at 2046 Meredith Drive, Beloit.
Dispatch: What is the problem?
Caller: House blew up…totally blew up”

One caller says he ran over to the home on Meredith Drive before emergency crews arrived he says he tried to help the woman, but knew there was nothing he could do. That’s what more than a dozen of the calls sound like.

Both victims remain at UW Hospital in Madison. Todd is in critical condition with severe burn wounds. Tara appears to be doing okay. We’re told she has minor injuries. The explosion was caused by a gas-leak after a stove was improperly installed the day of the blast.


BELOIT (WIFR) – New developments in last night’s house explosion in Beloit. Beloit Firefighters say it was sparked by a gas stove, hooked up improperly. The gas line wasn’t capped in the basement, so natural gas filled the air and something ignited it, causing the house to blow up and collapse on two people inside.

The sound of Sunday night’s explosion still resonates in the Beloit neighborhood, echoed by the screams of the woman once trapped inside.

We’re now getting our first look at how the heroic rescues were performed. Firefighters cut a hole in the roof, giving them an entrance to pull 33-year-old Tara Purdy to safety. Saving 37-year-old Todd Purdy was more complex. Investigators say they did something called “tunneling”, which is crawling through the debris to make a path to get the man out alive.

“Every time you are going to cut something or move something you are thinking to yourself, okay what will it do to the house.”

The shell of what used to be a home, now sits among the rubble, walls leaning against trees, feet from a living room couch thrown into the lawn. It’s a scene firefighters are starting to comb through to determine what happened.

Investigators say the gas leak likely started in the basement and typically releases a strong rotten egg scent when it hits the air. Firefighters are hoping to learn more from the man and woman once trapped inside as they now live to tell their story.

More than 20 9-1-1 calls were made to the Rock County dispatcher during last night’s explosion. The house, as you just saw, is destroyed. It was valued at nearly $50,000. The victims were renters who neighbors say just moved into the area.

Both Tara and Todd Purdy were sent to UW Hospital in Madison. Tara is listed in fair condition with cuts, bruises and minor burns. Todd is listed in critical condition, also with severe burns.


UPDATE: The Department of Criminal Investigation State Fire Marshal’s Office and City of Beloit Fire Department Fire Investigation Team have concluded their preliminary fire scene examination. This examination revealed that an open gas line in the basement contributed to the explosion. The tenants, Todd and Tara Purdy, installed a new gas stove on the evening of the incident, the gas stove and the open end connection were supplied by the same line. When the gas was turned on for the stove, the tenants were unaware that the gas line was not capped, resulting in the basement being filled with natural gas and an unknown ignition source ignited the gas, causing the explosion.

There is no criminal activity associated with this incident. It was rumored that home repairs were being done without a permit, to our knowledge there were no repairs going on in the house that required a permit for work from the City of Beloit.

Tara Purdy and Todd Purdy have both been transferred to UW Madison Hospital. Tara is listed in Fair Condition with cuts, bruises and minor burns. Todd Purdy is listed in Critical Condition with 2nd and 3rd Degree Burns.


UPDATE: An investigation will continue Monday morning into why a house exploded in Beloit Sunday evening.

Beloit fire officials say around 7:40 p.m., they came upon a home in 2000 block of Meridith Drive that was totally destroyed, with debris still on fire.

Two people were trapped at the time. Neighboring homes were evacuated. 19 departments assisted in rescue operations. A 33-year-old female suffered burns and was taken by ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Janesville. A 37-year-old man also suffered burns and was taken by helicopter to University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison. One family pet died and another one survived.

The home, estimated to be worth $48,500, was completely destroyed. It was a rental property owned by James and Beverly Long of Beloit.

The cause is suspected to be a natural gas explosion. Physical evidence must be found first.

Once all family has been notified, the victims' identities will be released.

A press conference has been scheduled for 4:00 p.m. this afternoon at the Beloit Fire Department Headquarters located at 1111 Church Street, Beloit.


BELOIT (WIFR) -- Two people are injured when a house explodes in Beloit.

Firefighters say the blast happened around 8pm on Sunday. The house in the 2000 block of Meredith Drive was leveled and both the man and woman inside the home during the explosion were trapped underneath the rubble. It took crews at least 2 hours to get both of them free. The man was last to be rescued and was airlifted to UW Madison Hospital. The woman was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. The Beloit Fire Department says they were both suffering from 2nd degree burns. Firefighters say there were also two pets in the home at the time and one may have died. 19 Stateline fire departments were called in to help with the rescue.

Investigators say the cause of the fire may have been gas related but are waiting for a full investigation before they can officially determine the cause.


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