Man in critical condition after explosion levels home in Beloit
James Kust, Nick Montes and Todd Hicks
BELOIT -- A 37-year-old Beloit man is still in critical condition with second and third-degree burns after his home exploded Sunday night.
Beloit Fire Chief Bradley Liggett said in a press conference today that Todd Purdy was transported by helicopter to UW Hospital in Madison yesterday evening.
Liggett said Todd's wife, 33-year-old Tara Purdy, is in fair condition with minor burns, cuts, and bruises. She was transfered to the UW Hospital to be with her husband.
The newly married couple installed a gas stove just hours before the explosion.
"In that process they opened a gas line that also fed a line that fed elsewhere in the basement that wasn't hooked up to anything," said Liggett.
Chief Liggett said where the two were located in the house may have helped save their lives. Tara was found in the upstairs bathroom. Todd was trapped in the basement, under the upstairs floor.
"The building fell in just the right spots that they both were protected."
Kimberly Schaefer doesn't know the couple who lived inside, but she knows the Beloit home well.
"I cried looking at it. I wasn't even going to get close. The closer I got, the harder it got," said Schaefer.
The home was her parents' first, where she grew up and where she raised her kids.
Neighbor Diana Smith heard the blast that leveled the single-family home while she was having dinner with her husband. She said when she looked outside she could see the roof had collapsed on what use to be the frame of the house. It happened just before 8 p.m.
Smith's husband called 911, while she rushed to the home. That's where she heard screams from Purdy coming from the basement asking for help.
"I said, 'we've called 911, rescue is on the way, we can't get to you,'" Smith said.
Emergency crews arrived minutes later and pulled Purdy from the rubble. Todd Purdy was trapped for several hours. Crews eventually freed him.
There were two family pets in the home at the time, and only one survived.
Neighbors say the family recently moved into the house and were new to the neighborhood.
"The Fire Department evacuated adjacent homes and Alliant Energy was called to the scene to assist in identifying the source of any natural gas leak and then also to clear adjacent homes for any potential secondary leaks," said Chief Liggett.
"Alliant Energy also shut off power to the affected residence."