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Explosion rocks Winthrop man’s cottage-style home


WINTHROP — A 34-year-old Winthrop man suffered minor burns to his face and arms late Sunday afternoon when an apparent propane explosion destroyed his home at 1407 County Route 49 in the town of Stockholm.

Brasher-Winthrop Fire Chief Patrick M. “Pappy” Kowalchuk said flames were shooting out the doors and windows and from under the eaves of the small, single-story residence when firefighters arrived. “It was some type of explosion,” he said. “Both ends of the house were blown out.”

Joshua J. Montgomery, who lived alone, had been pulled out of the burning cottage by his neighbor Dale Van Steen. Mr. Montgomery was taken to Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam, by Tri-Town Rescue.

Melvin Montgomery said his son suffered only minor injuries. “It singed him a little bit,” he said. “I’m just thankful Dale was right there to get him. He was real lucky.”

Mr. Van Steen said he and his wife were in their house, just a few yards away, when they heard the explosion. He said he could not open the front door, but then noticed Joshua Montgomery was sticking his arm out of a small hole in the wall that had been created by the explosion.

He said he kicked the wall to open the hole wider to pull the slender fire victim to safety.

“It went up quick, like a matchbox,” he said.

The elder Mr. Montgomery said his son told him he had smelled gas and then was knocked out of his chair.

He said when he entered his son’s home he saw flames coming out from behind the water heater.

“It looked like a blow torch behind the water heater, and the weird thing is, it isn’t gas. It’s an electric water heater. The first thing I did was turn off the gas,” he said.

West Stockholm firefighters provided mutual aid.

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