Neighbor: “I thought we were having an earthquake” during Jackson Co. home blast

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 6:55 PM CDT
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HOLTON, Kan. (WIBW) - Kelli Shirley lives up the road from the home explosion that killed one man and left his wife with serious burns Monday night.

“I was home last night around 6:15 on the couch watching TV when the walls shook, the windows rattled, the dogs went crazy,” she recalled Tuesday.

She said she could sense the severity of the situation just a few homes over from her.

“I’m originally from California and I originally thought we were having an earthquake then I heard the sound and I realized it was something more than that,” she said.

“It was this loud, booming sound and then the windows were still shaking, it was so close I actually thought it was something on the property like the garage had blown up or something.”

Jackson Co. Sheriff Tim Morse identified the man who died in the explosion as 61-year-old Billy “Lu” Griffiths, the Director of Banner Lake.

A statement to the Lake’s Facebook page read “Our hearts are broken this morning. We want to thank you for reaching out to us in text or messages. We love our lake family, we will miss Lu very much. Keep his family and friends in your thoughts and pray for his wife Teri”.

The Royal Valley School District told 13 NEWS Teri Griffiths is an Audio-Visual teacher at Royal Valley High School and shared their sympathies.

Authorities said she was airlifted from the scene with serious burns and debris from the scene could be felt from a mile away. .

“When I went inside and saw billowing black smoke I realized something had happened bad happened down there for us to feel it all the way up here,” Shirley recalled.

The Kansas Fire Marshal’s Office is assisting with the investigation,

Morse said the explosion could be gas-related but the investigation is ongoing.

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