Tahlequah Daily Press

February 8, 2013

Man injured in explosion improving

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — A man critically injured in a home explosion last weekend has been moved to a burn center and is making some progress, authorities said Thursday.

Jeff Saddler, 50, was inside his home in Briggs when a buildup of propane caused the massive explosion, which leveled the home and trapped Saddler beneath the debris Saturday night.

He was later pulled from the rubble and flown to a Tulsa hospital, where he was considered “very critical,” Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault said after the blast.

State investigators went to the scene on State Highway 51, east of Tahlequah, and determined a propane delivery system between an outside propane storage tank and a newly installed cook stove inside the home, was faulty.

Investigators determined that system likely caused a buildup of propane under the home, and ignited at some point while Saddler was cooking.

Debris was spotted at least half a mile away, and residents reported hearing the explosion for miles.