PONCA CITY — A Ponca City man whose house exploded after he mistakenly turned on a gas valve died Thursday, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Robert Silvy, 84, was pulled from beneath the rubble of his home Wednesday afternoon by three passing motorists. He was taken to a Ponca City hospital and later flown to a Via Christi Hospital in Wichita, Kan.
Brandon Mason, one of the passing motorists, told The Ponca City News he could see a man trapped beneath collapsed portions of the burning home.
“I lifted up a section of the roof and tried to pull him out, but he was stuck,” Mason said.
“We had a hard time trying to grab him,” said Lindel Senseman, another motorist who aided in the rescue along with Mark Rau. “I saw a boy spraying a garden hose on the fire and told him ‘spray us' and then put my jacket over the man.”
David VanBuskirk, Ponca City fire marshal, told the Ponca City newspaper that Silvy mistakenly turned on a valve to a gas line running into the kitchen rather than a wall heater. The kitchen line was uncapped and may have been previously hooked up to an oven or a stove, he said.
“Silvy was lighting a wall heater,” Ponca City Fire Chief Butch Herring said. “It was an old house. I'm not sure if the plumbing was totally intact.”
Herring said investigators are checking to see if there were loose pipes or if a cap was off the plumbing fixtures. No foul play was associated with the explosion, he said.
Silvy's bungalow style home was located in an older neighborhood with homes built in the 1930s and 1940s, Herring said.
The house to the north of Silvy's home sustained major surface damage from the explosion and fire, and the house to the south had minor fire damage and had its windows blown out, Herring said.