Family recovering well after explosion

Kelley parents in ‘fair’ condition; 9-year-old released from Mercy

Members of a La Plata County family were making a good recovery Thursday after their home exploded earlier this week.

Cameron Kelley, 9, was released Thursday from Mercy Regional Medical Center after suffering a broken leg and minor burns, said Brad Caskey, a longtime family friend who was with Cameron at the hospital.

The conditions of her parents, Tim and Karen Kelley, were upgraded to “fair” Thursday at the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver, said Dan Weaver, hospital spokesman.

A day earlier, Karen Kelley had been in “critical” condition and Tim Kelley was in “serious” condition.

Tim Kelley suffered burns, a broken tibia and had blood-flow problems in his left leg, Caskey said.

Karen Kelley, who suffered severe burns, was awake and talking Thursday, he said.

“Everyone will make a full recovery,” Caskey said. “It’s going to take some time.”

The family’s house exploded Tuesday night at 6415 County Road 243, a couple of miles north of Lemon Reservoir, northeast of Durango.

A propane leak caused the explosion, but the source of the leak and the ignition source remained under investigation Thursday, sand Randy Larson, deputy chief with Upper Pine River Fire Protection District.

The family called Mesa Propane to report the gas leak, but when serviceman Bobby Fuller arrived about 8 p.m., he discovered the house had been leveled.

Firefighters have estimated the explosion occurred about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The girl crawled out of the debris and into a truck for warmth. The parents were buried underneath 4 feet to 6 feet of debris for about 2 hours with temperatures in the teens.

Tim Kelley was pulled free at 9:56 p.m., and Karen Kelley was freed at 10:11 p.m.

Both were awake and speaking Thursday, Caskey said. Tim Kelley had spoken with his daughter, Caskey said.

Cameron received numerous visitors this week at Mercy. Well-wishers covered her cast with their signatures when they visited her, Caskey said.

A family representative indicated Cameron will return to school next week, according to a letter from Doug Geygan, principal at Riverview Elementary School.

“True to Cameron’s personality, she was quite concerned for two Riverview library books that were in the house at the time of the explosion,” Geygan wrote. “I assured her she would not get a fine for this!”

The family dog was found alive about noon Wednesday – nearly 17 hours after the blast – buried underneath the debris.

Rocko, a 6-year-old chocolate Labrador, was in stable condition Thursday at Riverview Animal Hospital in Durango, said Randy Hays, a veterinarian.

The dog was no longer in shock, but it’s heart and liver were “significantly compromised” by the blast, Hays said.

Hays was consulting with other veterinarians in the state about the best type of treatment to give him, he said.

The dog was responding well to pain medication.

“His prognosis is considered fair at this time,” Hays said Thursday.

Residents have been calling Riverview Animal Hospital asking how they can donate to Rocko’s medical expenses.

Hays has been directing them to two funds that have been set up to help the Kelley family.

shane@durangoherald.com

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