BERLIN, MASS. (WHDH) - A deadly house explosion in Berlin earlier this year was caused by a propane leak, state and local officials announced on Thursday.

The explosion happened early on the morning of April 14 on Pleasant Street, killing a 79-year-old woman and sending one other person to a hospital. In addition to the home that exploded, officials in their announcement this week said the blast also damaged three neighboring homes and two vehicles in the area.

The new joint statement released by the state Department of Fire Services said town and state investigators learned residents had smelled propane in the backyard of the home where two 100-pound liquid propane cylinders were located on the evening of April 13.

“They notified the Knight Fuel Company of the apparent leak, and an employee removed that tank to a location about 20 feet from the home,” officials said. “Investigators collectively determined that the tank continued to leak propane gas, which is heavier than air and traveled into the home’s basement through the fieldstone foundation and basement walkout.”

While an exact ignition source remained undetermined, officials on Thursday said the gas somehow ignited shortly before 3:30 a.m. on April 14, triggering the explosion that leveled the home. 

“The building’s total collapse made it impossible to determine the exact ignition source but investigators found no evidence that it was suspicious in nature,” officials said.

Officials said the Knight Fuel Company was issued a notice of violation after code compliance officers determined the company violated Massachusetts’ comprehensive fire safety code “by storing more than 42 pounds of propane without a permit; failing to notify the Berlin Fire Department of the leaking tank; filling and delivering out-of-date propane cylinders to the Pleasant Street home; failing to notify the property owner that the leaking cylinder was out of date; and other actions.” 

The explosion in April drew a massive emergency response, with firefighters from multiple area communities responding to the scene. Once on scene, firefighters continued working in the area well into the daylight hours of April 14, pouring water on the rubble of the destroyed home to tamp down hotspots. 

Community members speaking with 7NEWS at the time mourned the loss of the woman who was killed and said the woman’s daughter had been in the home at the time of the explosion. 

The woman, said to be in her 50s, was rescued by neighbors who came running out when they heard the explosion and pulled her from the debris, other neighbors said.

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