DANVILLE — An apartment explosion early Wednesday that left two men injured might have been caused by an operating meth lab, Danville Fire Chief Woody Ball said in a release.
Stephen Shepperson, who uses a wheelchair, and a visiting friend, Cameron Boling, were flown to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, where they were listed in critical condition.
An unidentified woman who was in the apartment was not injured, Ball said in the news release.
The explosion happened shortly after 12:30 a.m. Wednesday and left a gaping hole in Shepperson's ground-level apartment on Patrician Place on the city's south side.
David Hunter, 50, superintendent of the building, said he was watching television in the apartment immediately above Shepperson's. Hunter said he noticed "a funny smell" shortly before the blast but paid it no attention.
"The next thing I know, there's an explosion from downstairs," Hunter said. "It was like a bomb. I thought something fell out of the sky. The whole apartment shook.
"I saw the guy outside saying 'The propane exploded,'" he said.
Hunter got his wife and 19-year-old son out of the apartment. They are temporarily displaced but plan to move into a vacant apartment in the five-apartment building, Hunter said.
Ricky Miller, 25, who lives in another apartment down the street, said he was smoking outside when heard the explosion and saw "a ball of fire shoot out of that bottom apartment."
He said he saw one man leave the apartment and then go back in to get the man in the wheelchair. One man had skin peeling off his hands, Miller said.
Deputy Fire Chief Tim Brumfield said it took about 20 minutes for firefighters to contain the blaze. He said a propane cylinder was found at the scene.
"Whether it was in use or not, that's still under investigation," Brumfield said.
The Shepperson and Hunter apartments had structural damage and were considered uninhabitable, Ball said in his news release.
City Fire Marshal Ken Pflug is investigating the explosion.
Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.