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Onawa Man Injured in House Explosion – KETV

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Onawa Man Injured in House Explosion

Officials Say Burglar Tried to Steal Copper Propane Line

POSTED: 9:50 am CDT August 29, 2007

ONAWA, Iowa — Western Iowa officials said an Onawa man suffered burns in a house explosion.

Earl Thelander, 80, was injured Tuesday afternoon in the blast that happened in the basement of a vacant house he owns in rural Onawa.

According to the Monona County Sheriff’s Office, Thelander had just plugged in a fan to help vent fumes from a propane line that had been cut on a furnace during a burglary. Officials said someone broke into the house and took copper waterlines and then tried to take the copper propane line.

After the explosion, Thelander drove to his home. He was taken to a hospital in Onawa, and then to a hospital in Omaha, Neb.

Copyright © 2007 KETV Omaha

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KETV: Man Dies After $20 Copper Theft

Man Dies After $20 Copper Theft

 (Video has disappeared and we are trying to find another online copy.)

Video from KETV Newswatch Channel 7 in Omaha, NE,
regarding the death of Earl Thelander of Onawa, IA
Air Date: October 12, 2007

Onawa, Iowa — A $20 copper theft in August led to the death of an Iowa man, and local authorities said on Friday that they need the public’s help to solve the crime.

Earl Thelander, 80, died Sept. 1 after an explosion in a home he owns outside of Onawa. His son, Doug, said his father was preparing the property for a new renter. In the process, someone raided the inside of the home, police said, stealing wiring and tubing and cutting a gas line into the home.

Doug Thelander said his father aired out the gas smell in the house for almost three hours the next day, then plugged in a fan to move the air around.

“He said, ‘Doug, I didn’t smell anything, but that spark there was just a tremendous explosion,'” Thelander said, recalling one of his last conversations with his father.

Earl Thelander had second- and third-degree burns over 80 percent of his body. He died in a hospital four days later.

“It’s tough to watch. It’s tough to watch somebody like that just fade away,” Doug Thelander said.

Monona County Sheriff Jeff Pratt said he has been working the case since the beginning. Now, he’s asking the public for more help.

“We’re talking about $20 worth of copper,” the sheriff said. “We’re trying to make people aware that somebody had to of heard something, or somebody spoke about it. We just want people to call in and give us some information.”

“He was a humble man,” said Doug Thelander. “He was a strong man. He was a good man.”

If you have information, call 800-859-1413. Callers may remain anonymous, and there is a reward for good information.

Copyright 2007 by KETV.com. All rights reserved

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