The sound of explosions could be heard frequently throughout the long Fourth of July weekend in Carmel as residents celebrated the holiday with fireworks, but one unexpected blast caused extensive damage to a house in Home Place and left its owner with second-degree burns.
Jennifer Clark smelled smoke on July 5 coming from the front bedroom of her home on Santa Anita Court in the Lexington Farms neighborhood. As she went to investigate, an explosion threw her across the room.
“Everything there is to do wrong, I did, which is to open a door into a smoky environment, which caused an explosion because I fed it oxygen,” she said. “That flame blew up in my face and blew me back. I got second-degree burns on about 30 percent of my body.”
Doctors have told Clark her burns will heal, but the news was not so good for one of her four dogs. Clark said she initially got her two beagles and two Chihuahuas out of the house but that one of them, a 5-year-old beagle named Chloe, ran back inside after another dog got loose. Chloe was later found dead inside the home.
“She had a happy life, a wonderful life, up until the last five minutes and she passed,” Clark said. “That’s the way I have to look at it.”
The other dogs were uninjured.
One firefighter was transported to the hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion and was released the same day, according to CFD spokesman Tim Griffin. CFD investigators are still working to determine the exact cause of the fire and explosion. Clark said she believes it started with an electrical fire in a bedroom of the home, which does not use any gas appliances.
Clark, who has owned the house since it was built nearly 30 years ago, said it appears it will be a total loss. She has been staying with a friend since the blast and plans to relocate into a rental house this weekend until she can move back to her longtime home, whether it’s repaired or rebuilt.
“I love that neighborhood. I love my place there on the pond and the fact I back up to the beautiful Central Park,” she said. “I do want to go back. I don’t harbor any ill feelings for going back.”
After recovering from the ordeal, Clark said she would like to work with the Carmel Fire Dept. to educate the community about fire safety. She is encouraging others to conduct fire drills with their families and practice what to do in an emergency.
Clark said she is grateful to the CFD firefighters and medics for “doing an outstanding job” responding to the situation. She counts them among the many blessings she’s experienced since the explosion.
“It could’ve been so much worse if I had been knocked out with the blast when the fire hit me. Maybe I wouldn’t have made it, from smoke inhalation,” she said. “My neighbors were home to provide a phone to call 911. My glasses I was wearing protected my eyes from being burned. My burns are extensive but superficial, and they will heal. I have great insurance. It’s a wonderful community, and I have no complaints. My only sadness is losing my dog, that’s it.”