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Explosions kill one in rural Nevada town

Posted at 3:07 PM, Jul 14, 2016

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Twin explosions rocked a neighborhood in a rural Nevada town, killing one person and flinging car parts several blocks away, authorities and neighbors said Thursday.

The blasts late Wednesday shocked the small town of Panaca, a close-knit high-desert farm community about 110 miles north of Las Vegas near the Utah state line. Gov. Brian Sandoval called the blasts a shocking event.

One person died and another was treated for an injury that was not believed to be life-threatening, Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said. The FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives joined the investigation, he said.

The ATF described the blasts as a car explosion, but authorities would not give further details. Neighbors saw a house with its front wall pushed in and a car destroyed.

"My neighbor says there's a 3-foot crater where the car was parked," resident Richard Katschke said. "The car is in pieces around town."

Katschke said he and his wife, Karen, were just beginning Mormon prayers when the blasts shook their home. He said one couple reported a chunk of wreckage crashing through their roof more than two blocks away.

"The sound was just horrendous. It was really quite a force," said Jeanett McCrosky, who lives about a block away. She said her house shook and a light fixture fell from the ceiling.

Dave Free, who lives a block away, said he had broken windows, car parts in his driveway and shrapnel next to his horse feeder. The animals and his grandchildren, who feed the horses, escaped injury.

"It could have a real bad deal," he said.

Katschke said he attends Mormon church with the Cluffs, the family of five who lived in the house that was damaged. Joshua Cluff is a former hospital official and Tiffany Cluff is a nurse at Grover C. Dils Medical Center in a neighboring town, Caliente. They have three daughters ranging in age from about 8 to 12, Katschke said.

Efforts by The Associated Press to reach Joshua and Tiffany Cluff on Thursday were not immediately successful.

"We're a close community. This kind of thing, it'll pull this community together," Katschke said.

Panaca began as a Mormon settlement in 1864, before Nevada became a state, and is now home to about 900 people and Lincoln County High School. It bills itself as a tourism gateway to several state parks.