UPDATE (From Van Zandt County Fire Marshal/Emergency Management): The victim from Sunday night's house explosion and fire has been identified as Rita Armstrong. Notification was made to the son late last night.
Investigators ruled Sunday's house explosion and the subsequent death of an elderly woman near Mabank accidental following a preliminary investigation Monday.
Van Zandt County Fire Marshal Chuck Allen said a propane line installed in the home was both unattached to any gas-field device and contained a valve left in the partially open position. He said it appeared the gas had built up inside the home while the woman who lives there was taking her husband to the hospital.
Allen said it was possible that the act of lighting a cigarette or turning on a television provided the spark necessary to ignite the gas.
A neighbor who was home at the time of the explosion said he was watching television around 5:00pm when he heard a bang louder than anything he had ever experienced. He said the home burned quickly after the initial explosion.
Allen said the woman's husband had been notified late yesterday of her death and was distraught. Notification of the couple's adult son was still pending Monday afternoon, so the woman's identity was not released.