Pool cleaner singed and slightly burned, but OK after explosion

2011-06-08T18:10:00Z 2014-08-25T15:37:10Z Pool cleaner singed and slightly burned, but OK after explosion

By ED KEMMICK

Of The Gazette Staff‌

The Billings Gazette

Seventeen-year-old Nick Kuppinger had a ringside seat Wednesday for the explosion that destroyed a house on Granite Avenue.

“I got blown over on my butt,” he said, and the blast singed his hair and sideburns and gave his face a noticeable red toasting.

“It was pretty scary, but I think I got lucky,” he said.

Kuppinger was working for his father’s company, Billings Pool and Spa, vacuuming a pool at the home of Harrison Fagg, who lives at 1414 Mystic Drive. The house and pool sit just uphill from Gary Woltermann’s house at 1411 Granite Ave., which disappeared in a spectacular explosion Wednesday morning.

Kuppinger said the explosion sounded like “a really loud boom, almost like a cannon going off next to me.”

Knocked to the ground, he watched as big chunks of debris flew over his head. He dodged more debris as he ran to the corner of the property and crouched down, bracing for the possibility of a second explosion.

When it didn’t come, he got up and made his way down to the emergency personnel gathered below.

“Nobody could get up there, so I had to walk down around it,” he said, referring to the flaming ruins and debris-choked street.

Kuppinger said he was checked out in an ambulance and released, and he didn’t see any reason to go to the hospital for further examination. He went back to work, doing pool maintenance the rest of the morning and afternoon.

Contact Ed Kemmick at ekemmick@billingsgazette.com or 657-1293.

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