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Explosion rocks Winthrop man’s cottage-style home

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By RYNE R. MARTIN

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

Brasher-Winthrop Fire Chief Pappy Kowalchuk said flames were shooting out the doors and windows and from underneath the eaves when firefighters arrived on the scene. “It was some type of explosion. Both ends of the house were blown out,” he said.

Joshua J. Montgomery, who lived alone in the small, single story residence, had been pulled out of the burning home by his neighbor, Dale Van Steen, before firefighters arrived on scene.

Mr. Montgomery was transported to Canton-Potsdam Hospital by Tri-Town Rescue for treatment of his injuries. Melvin Montgomery said his son suffered only minor injuries. “It singed him a little bit. I’m just thankful Dale was right there to get him. He was real lucky. I don’t give two ... about the house,” he said.

Mr. Van Steen said he and his wife were in their house, just a few yards away, when they heard the explosion. “My wife looked out and said, ‘It’s Josh’s house.’ I took off running barefoot and when I got there I saw flames inside,” he recalled.

Mr. Van Steen said he initially tried to open the front door, but he was unable to get inside the residence. He said he then noticed Joshua was sticking him 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 and was able to pull the slender fire victim to safety, take him to his grandmother’s house and call 911.

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

The elder Mr. Montgomery said he was at his home a short distance away when he heard the explosion and was unaware his son had escaped from his home when he arrived at the fire scene. The younger Mr. Montgomery has significant medical issues.

He said he too was unsuccessful in getting the door open. “I gave it three knocks and couldn’t get it open. It was wedged shut from the explosion. Then my son, Ziggy (Jonathan) stepped back, took off running, hit that door and blew it right out. I was just going in the house when somebody yelled out, ‘We got him out,’” he said.

The fire victim’s father said his son told him he had smelled gas, then been knocked out of his chair and saw flames when he looked up.

The elder Mr. Montgomery said when he had entered his son’s home he had seen 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.

The elder Mr. Montgomery said his son’s cottage was one of three family member’s homes on the property. Joshua lived alone in his home.

West Stockholm firefighters provided mutual aid at the scene.

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