Frances Gilchrist is comforted by a frog blanket and extended family members Joanne Singler and Sean Donnally in the front yard of her fire damaged house. Bob Pennell / Mail Tribune photo - Bob Pennell

Explosion at Central Point home probed

CENTRAL POINT — The front of a woman's home went up in flames Wednesday after she heard what sounded like an explosion, followed by flames and smoke.

Frances Gilchrist, who has lived in the home on the 2100 block of Lotus Lane since 1954, escaped without injury. Her husband was away fishing at the time.

Gilchrist said she was in the kitchen getting ready for the day at about 8:30 a.m. when she heard a small explosion near the front door. She went to see what the noise was and saw smoke billowing about the room.

She called 9-1-1 and left the house. She heard a second explosion as she exited.

"The house just filled with smoke," Gilchrist said.

She said she's thankful she escaped without injury, though it's unknown whether the several cats living there all made it out.

"God was taking care of me," she said.

Jackson County Fire District No. 3 responded to the scene twice, initially with four engines and about 16 firefighters, fire officials said.

The flames later restarted in the attic at about 11:30 a.m., sending firefighters back to the scene. Fire officials said the reignition most likely was caused by a stray ember from the first fire and a sudden increase in winds. The second fire did not cause any additional damage, they said.

Division Chief Dave Blakely said the cause is still under investigation.

Firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading to the back of the house.

No damage estimates were available, but Blakely said, "There's some pretty significant damage to the front side of it."

Gilchrist said there were two boxes on the front porch near where the fire started, but they contained nothing explosive she can recall, just her husband's hunting socks and a container of juice.

She isn't sure what could have started the blaze.

"I'm totally mystified," she said.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at

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