Kalispell Couple Thankful to Have Escaped Blast

By Beacon Staff

Fire officials in Kalispell are investigating whether a stray bullet accidentally fired from a new hunting rifle may have struck a natural gas line, eventually leading to an explosion that destroyed a house over the weekend.

No matter the cause, Art and Diane Wright feel very fortunate they were not home at the time of Saturday’s blast.

Art Wright told the Daily Inter Lake he was familiarizing himself with the rifle at about 5:45 a.m. Saturday when he accidentally fired it into the floor of his house.

Kalispell Fire Chief Dave Dedman said until investigators find the natural gas pipe, he can’t say if the bullet punctured it. But he says it’s possible.

Diane Wright said after her husband left to go hunting she smelled an odor, but thought it was from the gun. She took a shower and then left the house to run some errands.

She’s convinced an unplanned stop at the grocery store saved her.

“If I had been home instead of going to the grocery store, I would have opened the door,” she said, adding that a firefighter told her that action alone could have set off an explosion.

“If she had turned a light switch on, it could have been a whole different story,” Dedman said.

The couple was able to recover some tools from the garage “and some of my jewelry blew up onto the roof of a neighbor’s house, oddly enough, so we were able to get to that,” Diane Wright said.

Neighbors the Wrights didn’t even know offered to let them house-sit their home while the homeowners are out of state.

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