A 42-year-old Rico woman was killed Monday in an explosion that destroyed her home and reverberated throughout the small mountain town.
In a release, the Dolores County Sheriff’s Office identified the victim as Lisa Salliby of 340 North Piedmont Street. The Rico, Dolores, and Cortez fire departments responded to the accident, which reportedly occurred around 4:30 in the afternoon. Dolores Fire Chief Mike Zion tells KSJD the disaster is under investigation by the sheriff’s office but preliminary indications are that a gas leak was to blame. Zion says propane probably settled into the crawlspace of the house until it found an ignition source. Rico Fire Chief Todd Jones says nothing was left standing of the structure but its chimney. The explosion reportedly sent debris flying as far away as Highway 145 and caused damage to nearby houses. Salliby’s body was found by firefighters some 30 feet from her home. She was reportedly the only one at home at the time except for two dogs, one of which also died in the explosion. Jones says his department is now helping other town residents check for gas leaks. Zion says in 39 years with the fire department he has never seen such an occurrence. Zion urges people to make sure they have working carbon monoxide detectors, which can help detect leaking propane as well.