House explodes in Lake of the Woods

  • [photo by Gary Meyer, The Mountain Enterprise]

    [photo by Gary Meyer, The Mountain Enterprise]

By Gary Meyer, TME

The Kern County Sheriff’s radio alert at 5:30 p.m., Friday, July 3, was not for a house fire in Lake of the Woods—it was for a “house exploded,” with an occupant possibly trapped inside.

Minutes later, The Mountain Enterprise arrived to see a sheriff’s deputy and a neighbor running across Chaparral Street, carrying an injured man from the burning structure in a…(please see below to view full stories and photographs)

Photo captions:

One man hospitalized. Second house destroyed.

Several unanswered questions arise about the cause of the explosion.

Burned school photos and a trunk from the1850s were surrounded by the ruins of the Chesters’ home. Below: Dale Chester found a photo of little Luke napping next to a Gibson guitar, similar to his grandfather’s, that was lost in the fire on July 3.

A GoFundMe page for the Chester family has been set up at Donations can also be made via the Family Resource Center by calling 661.245.4303 and asking for Tammy Rowan.

Dale Chester’s home next door (green) was destroyed, along with his family’s belongings.

Above: The wall heater from Gilbert Willette’s house, Sybil Chester said, is in the same position—blown across the yard and against the fence—that it was after Friday’s explosion. The walls of Willette’s house blew open. Below: The morning after, gas flex lines were found disconnected from the appliances they served—a stove, a wall heater and a water heater. KCFD investigators were unable to disclose whether they had disconnected the lines.

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This is part of the July 10, 2020 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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