TIFTON -- A man who was badly burned when his home blew up March 7 is now with family in Tifton recuperating, and the explosion that blew him into his yard has been ruled accidental.

According to Glenn Allen, a spokesman for Georgia Insurance and Fire Commissioner John Oxendine, John Sears, 51, has been released from Joseph M. Stills Burn Center in Augusta.

"He was lucky he made it," Allen said. "We've seen some cases like this where some weren't so lucky."

Allen said investigators with his agency and the Tifton Fire Department had completed their investigations and the explosion that blew Sears's mobile home apart and threw him into his yard was accidental.

Allen said Sears had disconnected a gas heater to have it repaired when a neighbor came to visit. Sears believed the gas tank was empty, so he wasn't concerned about leaving the loose line running from the tank outside into the house and leaving with the heater to take to the neighbor.

"He and the neighbor talked for about 10 minutes and in the meantime, the gas was actually leaking into the house through the line," Allen said.

Sears re-entered the mobile home at the same time the compressor on the refrigerator came on. A spark caused the explosion that shook windows in the neighborhood.

Investigators had another explosion to deal with this weekend. A car stolen Friday from Los Compadres Restaurant on Second Street in Tifton exploded near the Reed Bingham State Park Friday night. The car is believed to have been dumped and burned. A park ranger who heard the explosion from a half a mile away investigated and found the vehicle burning under a concrete bridge on Highway 37 next to the Little River.



To contact city editor Angie Thompson, call 382-4321.

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