Bio: Blasel, Mr. & Mrs. Lee ( 25 Jan. 2005)

Contact: Crystal Wendt

----Source:Marshfield News Herald (Marshfield, Wood Co., Wis.) Tue, Jan 25, 2005

Blast levels home; 2 injured Dorchester-area couple taken to Madison Burn Center

By David Hipschman and Matt Ollwerther

Marshfield News-Herald

Two people were in critical condition Monday after their house near Dorchester was demolished in an explosion and fire Sunday night.

Lee and Paula Blasel were in critical, but stable condition Monday at the Madison Burn Center, according to a burn center official. Lee was airlifted and Paula was taken by Ground Spirit from Saint Joseph's Hospital to the burn center, according to Paula's sister, Connie Decker of Dorchester.

The couple's house at W923 Hickory Road, about two miles west of Highway 13 and about one mile northwest of Dorchester, was leveled by the blast.

The couple was in the home alone when the explosion occurred. Two of their children live nearby, and another resides in Rice Lake.

Lee's older brother, Gary Blasel, said his brother had lit a cigar when the flames erupted from "what must have been built-up gas," and he ran outside.

"It started to go and he ran. He had insulation sticking to him that was on fire from the ceiling going," Gary Blasel said.

Lee Blasel, 48, was burned over 75 percent of his body and Paula, 47, had burns on her hands and legs, Gary Blasel said.

Decker, who went to Saint Joseph's Hospital with her nephews before the couple was sent to Madison, said Paula's burns were not as serious as Lee's.

"I can't imagine how they got out, because it was one big explosion," Decker said.

"Everything is gone, she doesn't even have a pair of socks." Decker said her sister and brother-in-law run a dairy farm and do custom field work. She said although the house was destroyed, the barn and machine shed were unharmed.

"Family and neighbors are helping with the milking," she said The call to the fire department came from neighbors at 9:20 p.m. Sunday, said Randy Younker, assistant fire chief of the Dorchester Fire Department.

"Upon arriving on the scene, the house was fully engulfed in flames," he said. The cause of the explosion has not yet been determined, but he said investigators could not rule out propane gas as the source. The house is a total loss, he said. The force of the blast threw pieces of the house 40 feet from the foundation, Younker said.

Fire and ambulance crews from Dorchester, Abbotsford and Curtiss responded to the call, said Chief Deputy Jim Backus of the Clark County Sheriff Department.

The Dorchester Fire Department left the scene around 11 p.m., other law enforcement officials stayed until 2 a.m. Monday, Younker said.

The investigation continues, he said.

Decker said a benefit fund to help the Blasels has been established at the Advantage Community Bank, Dorchester branch.



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