Families at the Marine Warfare Training Center outside of Coleville are recovering after a deadly explosion late last week that claimed the life of one resident and sent two others to the hospital.
On Friday, Feb. 3, at approximately 8:53 p.m., the Mono County Sheriff’s Dispatch received numerous 911 calls regarding an explosion and a residential structure that was on fire at the MWTC off-base housing.
It was later reported that the fire started after an explosion caused by a propane leak in the residential area of the MWTC.
Killed in the blast was Lori Hardin of Hudson, Iowa, the 31-year-old wife of Gunnery Sgt. Greg G. Hardin, military officials said. Hardin, a Marine Corps public works planner from Tuolumne, and the couple’s two children were not hurt in the Friday night explosion.
According to Mono County Under Sheriff Ralph Obenberger, public safety personnel from the Antelope Valley Fire Department, MWTC Fire Department, Mono County Paramedics, Mono County Sheriff, California Highway Patrol, MWTC Police Department, along with the East Fork Fire Department out of Nevada responded.
“Upon arrival, medical personnel assisted the victims and fire personnel battled the fire which was still engulfing the residence,” Obenberger said.
Careflight transported two of the victims to hospitals out of the area.
Those two victims wished to remain anonymous, Marine Captain Nicholas Mannweiler told The Associated Press. He added that one of the victims, a Marine stationed at the training center, was treated at Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, and was released Saturday. His wife, the second victim who was flown out of the area, remained in critical condition at the University of California, Davis Medical Center. Mannweiler said her condition was improving.
Mono County Social Services also responded and opened the Walker Community Center for use as a shelter if needed, and the Red Cross was contacted out of both California and Nevada.
The exact cause of the explosion is currently under investigation. Prior to allowing families to return to undamaged dwellings in the area, the MTWC conducted inspections of infrastructure to ensure there were no propane leaks that could lead to further fires. Thirty-eight families were displaced, and all but 18 have been allowed to return.
The Associated Press reported that the explosion left 11 homes uninhabitable, though only the home at the center of the blast was completely destroyed. Mannweiler said the housing complex has 11 open homes available for the families who cannot move back in.
Families whose homes were undamaged, or sustained minimal damage, were permitted to return home Sunday.