Woman killed in explosion, large fire in Cleveland; Possible gas ignition
CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. — A woman is dead after an explosion and large fire Sunday morning at a historic Cleveland County campground.
The fire broke out just before 10 a.m. at a dance hall at Brackett Cedar Park on Highway 10 and around 80 firefighters rushed to the scene to battle the blaze, which took more than four hours to control.
Hilda Roskam was killed and her husband Scott Roskam was airlifted to the Augusta Burn Center in Georgia, but his condition is unknown at this point.
Family members told Channel 9′s Dave Faherty that the couple lived nearby and went into the building to look for their cat. That’s when the fire started.
Neighbor Elmer Oboyle said he went inside the dance hall to try and get the couple out.
“We heard the explosion,” Oboyle said. “It kind of rocked the camper a little bit. When we looked over, we could see flames coming out the backside of the building. Flames were just coming pouring out the side of the building. That’s when I ran around to the kitchen entrance to get in.”
“He (Scott) was laying on the floor between the kitchen and the back room. I managed to be able to get him and drag him out to where Tracy could pull him out to the outside. But by the time I got him out, there was smoke and flames. I couldn’t get back in to do anything else,” said Oboyle.
Eyewitnesses said the fire spread quickly.
The chief of the Polkville Fire Department said firefighters believe an explosion happened. Heavy smoke and flames could be seen coming from a building.
The owner of the campground said his family had smelled gas coming from the dance hall over the holidays. Officials have not confirmed if that’s what caused the fire.
Scott Roskam’s brother, Bob Roskam, said they noticed a problem with the propane gas on Christmas day.
“We were gonna have our Christmas dinner up here, and I was downstairs here cooking, and my brother turned the heater on and by the time I started bringing the food up, they said the whole hall was filled up with gas,” he said.
Roskam said the heaters in the building were shutoff.
Firefighters said they were not alerted about the problem with the propane gas over the holidays.
“I got a feeling it was gas, especially if there was an explosion,” Bob Roskam said.
Several firetrucks, firefighters and different departments worked to contain the fire.
The campground was built in the 40s after an earlier campground burnt down. The fire chief said it has been a well-known landmark for years.
“Back in the 60s and 70s, it was a huge landmark for political events,” Silver said. “A lot of family reunions, weddings and events here on Friday and Saturday nights so we got a lot of people who grew up with Brackus Cedar Park.
The dance hall had been used for wedding receptions and other venues, over the years.
Police said the site is a total loss.
No other details have been released.
Authorities are still trying to figure out what caused the fire.
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