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Report: Hallsville house explosion possibly caused by gunshot into propane heater

EDITORS NOTE: The headline has been modified for clarity.


The Hallsville duplex explosion in January was ruled accidental, according to an investigative report ABC 17 News obtained from the Missouri Department of Public Safety.

According to the report, the explosion was caused by a gun accidentally firing into a propane tank and the propane reacting with a lit candle. The explosion happened Jan. 17 in the 6300 block of East Tayler Court in Hallsville at Emmie's Villas just after 10 p.m.

The report names the occupants of the house, engaged couple Samuel Oller and Madilyn Fraiser, their daughter and Oller's sister Elizabeth Oller. Samuel Oller and Fraiser suffered serious injuries from the explosion, but the other two were largely unharmed.

The Ollers declined to comment through family members.

The report shares Elizabeth Oller's and Samuel Oller's accounts of the night of the explosion.

Samuel Oller told investigators he'd been drying his boots with a small propane heater. He carries a handgun, and according to the report, he put a live round into his gun while getting ready for bed. Samuel Oller told investigators this is how he typically stores his guns at night. Madilyn Fraiser lit a candle in their bedroom, according to the report.

Samuel Oller placed his handgun on the nightstand before going to bed, and according to the report he doesn't remember the exact events, but sometime after that, the explosion happened.

Elizabeth Oller told investigators she was upstairs when she felt the house shake and saw the south wall of the house detaching, according to the report. That's when she left the house.

According to the report, the propane heater had about eight 1-pound propane cylinders and a single 20-pound propane cylinder. Samuel Oller told investigators he did not smell propane the day of the explosion. He did say he had problems with the propane heater not starting in the past, according to the report.

Propane safety

Propane safety tips from the Missouri Propane Safety Commission:

  • Use the right kind of heater: "Some propane space heaters are designed only for use outdoors. Others are designed only for use indoors. Check your owner’s manual or contact a qualified service technician to be sure you are using the right kind of heater."
  • Do not use an outdoor heater indoors: "High levels of CO [carbon monoxide] can be generated from heaters that are not designed for indoor use. High levels of CO can make you dizzy, give you headaches, or cause flu-like symptoms. In extreme cases, extended exposure to CO can result in brain damage or death."
  • Read your space heater manual: "The appliance manufacturer’s manual that came with your space heater tells how to set up and operate it safely. Read the entire manual and carefully follow all directions."

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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