Fatal explosion rips through home of Josh Powell
An explosion and fire Sunday tore through the house of Josh Powell, long under investigation in the disappearance of his wife, Susan, apparently killing Powell and the couple's two young boys.
Authorities said the small house near Fredrickson, Wash., burst into flames moments after a social worker dropped off the two boys at the home for what was to have been a supervised visit.
According to Graham Fire and Rescue officials, the social worker had dropped off the boys, Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5, but she was prevented from entering. The social worker called her supervisors to report that she could smell gas, and the home exploded.
"She moved away from the house, a very smart move on her part, and moments to minutes later, the house exploded," Graham Fire and Rescue spokesman Gary Franz told the Los Angeles Times.
He said "credible reports" from witnesses suggested that the Powell children were inside the home. Fire officials found the bodies of an adult and two children, who are now assumed to be Powell and his sons, Franz said.
"Everything points to Josh Powell and his two sons," he said.
He said Pierce County sheriff's officials were treating the home as "a crime scene."
Images of the home showed a smoking, blackened hulk with the charred frame of a vehicle standing in what was once a garage.
Powell has been a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife, who was last seen on a snowy night in December 2009 at the home the couple then shared with their children in Utah. Powell said he took his children on a midnight camping trip -- despite the snowstorm -- and returned to find her gone.
Powell took the boys to live with him and his father in Washington state, but lost custody to Susan Powell's parents after thousands of sexually explicit pictures and videos of women and young girls were discovered on the computer of Josh Powell's father, Steven Powell.
Josh Powell had been trying to regain custody of the boys but suffered a setback last week when a Washington state judge ruled that he must first undergo a psychosexual evaluation, based on the images found in the home.
-- Kim Murphy in Seattle
Photo: Emergency workers at the home of Josh Powell near Fredrickson, Wash. Credit: Peter Haley / News Tribune