Deadly Berlin house explosion that killed mother, injured daughter, under investigation

BERLIN, Mass — A woman is dead and one woman was rescued in a house explosion in Berlin, Friday morning.

The explosion, which caused the fire to happen occurred at home at 71 Pleasant Street in Berlin around 3:30 a.m.

Upon arrival, firefighters observed that the 2½-story, single-family home had sustained catastrophic damage, with heavy fire showing.

79-year-old Judith Christensen was found dead inside the home, and neighbors were able to save another woman inside. The woman was transported to a hospital with injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening.

Brooke Lavache says the explosion was so loud she can still feel it. “The sound. My ears are still ringing,” described Lavache.

Lavache’s boyfriend and his father ran over to the house with another neighbor while a Berlin police officer was also just arriving on scene.

“They lifted it up and took her out. They could hear her that she was alive still. They took her out and did all they could. They were very heroic, brave,” said Lavache.

Berlin Fire Chief Michael McQuillen says the damage was severe.

“I know there was materials they had to get off her in order to get her out. She was trapped on the bed and there were materials pinning her down on the bed,” said McQuillen.

According to the Fire Chief, the explosion sent debris as far as 300 feet, even damaging some other homes.

Officials say the woman rescued was Christensen’s daughter. Friends say she just celebrated a birthday the day before where she told them earlier in the week she was having issues with her propane.

Fire investigators are trying to determine if the home’s propane tank was the problem. “This is some type of pressure vessel. A pressure system that let go that caused this fire,” said McQuillen.

The blast was so severe, there was damage to neighbors’ homes and there were parts of the house high up in the trees above.

The victim and her family were loved by everyone in town.

Mark Smith told us the victim actually worked for years at the Berlin General Store.

“She and her family are wonderful people. Involved in all sorts of activities,” said Smith.

The daughter who was rescued is in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Investigators say it could be a while before they pinpoint the exact cause.

A GoFundme has been started by neighbors for the Christensen family. You can donate by clicking the link here.

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