Linemen help woman escape explosion

RURAL GRAND RAPIDS — “It was like a scene from a movie,” is how Lake Country Power member Pam Jepson describes the incredible events of her survival and escape just moments before her home burst into flames following an explosion last May.

Pam and her husband, Roger, spoke from their temporary residence in Arbo Township recently to talk about the emotional details of that spring morning.

With a chill in the air, Pam adjusted the thermostat for the home’s propane furnace around 9 a.m. on May 16, 2017 — moments later there was a blast.

“I guess, once the heater kicked in, the house just went Ka-BOOM! I was up in the air, hit my head on the ceiling and came down on my knees. It was like, ‘what the heck just happened … what was that!’”

Outside, Lake Country Power employees Jim Yrjanson and Mike Gustafson were finishing repairs to a neutral line damaged by a logging truck when the house exploded.

The two lineworkers were at the edge of the yard, about 75 feet from the Jepson’s home. “Jim took off for the house to see if anyone was inside,” said Gustafson. “I got into the cab of the truck and contacted dispatch to call 9-1-1.”

Yjranson reached the front porch and yelled through rubble into the home. Pam answered, and Yjranson made an immediate plea to evacuate. Along with two pets, Pam scrambled toward the door.

“I ran out, we both were going down the stairs. Sassy (the Jepson’s dog) was coming out behind me and the cat went into the woods, and that’s when it just blew into flames,” explains Pam.

Just like in a Hollywood film, she said it seemed like fire engulfed the home just seconds after the pair made their way across what was left of the deck.

“There were ambulances and fire trucks, and there was everything around, and there was my wife standing there,” Roger said, of when he arrived on the scene. “I know that God had a big part in this, to save her. And I don’t know what I would have done if my wife would have passed in that explosion. Because everything I’m working for is for her; and my family,” he added with emotion.

“It wasn’t my time,” said Pam. “Nope, she’s got one life to live … with me,” Roger chimed in with a laugh.

The Jepsons are now putting the finishing touches on their new home, located across the street from the remains of the leveled building. But, not a day goes past without reflection on the gratitude they share for the two LCP employees who came to the rescue.

“I just have to say, that those two guys, I’m so thankful that they were there,” said Pam. And, I owe them my life, I really do.”

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