Neighbors said Richards owned a car and a truck, and the charred skeletons of both stood stark against the dense smoke and spray from a fire hose.
Firefighters worked for more than two hours extinguishing the blaze before officials could start searching the remains of the house, which were scattered over a wide range in the rural area.
Investigators still were at the scene as darkness fell Wednesday, searching through the smoking rubble, and were expected to return today.
The cause of the explosion, which blew debris -- glass, insulation, slats of wood -- over a wide distance, has not been determined.
"We have no idea," he said at the scene, the fire still smoldering. "It's tragic, it is."
No vehicles were driving by, and no one seems to have witnessed the house blow up.
It was located on the west side of
"It just shook our whole house," said
In the more than 50 years she has lived there, she said, nothing like this has ever happened.
Her husband thought two vehicles had collided hard in front of their home and jumped up to see. But when he stepped outside, he looked to the south and saw billowing smoke and flames where a house had once stood. "I seen smoke up there and I kept walking, and it kept getting thicker ... there was a big fire, and I turned and told her to go call 911."
The Priest family has not lived long in the two-story yellow wood frame house just north of the explosion site.
But when he went inside, "it looked like the entire house had been ransacked, and everything was off the walls."
The family dog was safe inside, but scared, as Priest paced in his driveway with his cellphone, trying to contact his insurance agent. "The police said we have to evacuate the house," he said.
"We'll be back out again tomorrow, figuring out what happened here," he said.
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