Malfunctioning furnace led to Columbia home explosion, firefighters say

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COLUMBIA, Ill. – Disbelief for homeowner Deborah Reynolds, whose home exploded Friday morning in Columbia, Illinois.

Reynolds was not in the house at the time but her partner, Eddy Hayes, was.

"He said he felt the floor come up under his feet and all of the sudden, the walls blew out," Reynolds said.

Minutes after he woke up to turn on the furnace, Hayes said he heard an explosion. He was in the bathroom at the time, enclosed by walls, which likely saved his life.

Now Reynolds sits out front and looks at what used to be her home. The fire department declared the home a total loss. But for Reynolds and Hayes, not everything is gone.

Grateful memories and pictures were salvaged.

"My son found it in the rubble over there and we salvaged all the pictures," Reynolds said.

The Columbia Fire Department confirmed the furnace malfunctioned, which caused the explosion. This wasn't the first time they turned on the furnace for the season but it's something all homeowners should take into consideration this time of year.

Jeffrey Vitt, owner of Vitt Heating and Cooling, said this type of incident is rare.

"Seems like an isolated incident,” he said. “Maintenance is the biggest thing, making sure that the furnace is safe to operate before we get into the heart of the season."

Vitt said smell can be the biggest indicator of a problem with your furnace.

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