Mobile home explodes, owner badly burned - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Mobile home explodes, owner badly burned

Tift County- Not much is left of John Sears' Hill Avenue mobile home.

"We got called to this trailer behind me exploding. Units were on the scene within three minutes, and right now it's unknown exactly what has happened. We do know that one of our citizens injured," says Tifton Fire Chief Mike Flippo.

That citizen was 51 year old John Sears, Howard Pettiford's neighbor and friend. Pettiford says the explosion sounded like dynamite.

"It just shocked me and when I saw it I just took off and went and got him," Pettiford says.

He says Sears was blown out of the house and landed near the outside stairs.

"I heard him hollering and something just hit me when I saw the fire and I ran over hear and grabbed him and pulled him out," says Pettiford.

Pettiford wasn't injured but he says Sears had burns on his head, arms, hands and feet. Most of the damage was contained to Sears' house, but the impact and heat caused some damage to mobile homes nearby.

"We have contacted John Oxendine's state arson unit and their hazmat division to come in and assist Tift County S.O. and ourselves in piecing the puzzle together," Flippo says.

Arson investigators spent most of the day sifting through charred debris looking for clues that would help them figure out just what happened.

"Homes just don't explode by themselves, so it had to be something. It could have been an accident like some type of gas, or it could have been something else, that's what we're trying to get to," says Fire Commissioner John Oxendine.

Whatever the case, Pettiford says he doesn't feel like a hero, he's just glad Sears survived the blast.

"I know he needed help and I went to his rescue. I would do it again if it came down to it, not just for him, for anyone," he says.

Pettiford says Sears lived by himself and was a quiet man. He says he was conscious when he pulled him out and asked Pettiford to call his mother. Sears was transported to a burn center in Augusta.

Tifton Fire Chief Mike Flippo says firefighters did not find any hazardous materials in the mobile home, but the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Posted at 5:25 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com

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