‘Hard to believe’: 83-year-old man killed in massive propane tank explosion

A deadly gas explosion at a Chattahoochee Hills home Monday night shattered windows of nearby homes and sent debris flying through the air.

City officials said it appears a propane tank attached to the home on Cochran Mill Road near Cedar Grove Road exploded around 9:30 p.m.

“When the officers arrived, what they found was a house with some obvious damage,” Chattahoochee Hills police Chief Jim Little told Channel 2 Action News from the scene.

The home’s only resident was killed. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office identified the victim Wednesday as 83-year-old Charles Miller.

No other injuries were reported, Chattahoochee Hills Mayor Tom Reed said in a Facebook post.

Fire Chief Greg Brett said he was one of the first on the scene. He knew the home was Miller’s when the call came over the radio. With both cars still sitting in the driveway, Brett said he knew it would be a rescue or recovery effort.

“We were able to locate (his body) relatively quickly,” he told AJC.com. “You know, it’s personal for me, always, in a small jurisdiction.”

Miller, known as Chuck to his friends, was a fixture in the community, Brett said.

“He was an affable person that enjoyed cooking,” he said. “He enjoyed inviting people into his home. He was an excellent chef, not just a cook.”

The city of South Fulton also sent fire support to the home. In a Facebook post, South Fulton Mayor William “Bill” Edwards said Miller was one of Reed’s friends, too.

“Our prayers go out to the Mayor and the family and to all the citizens of this fine city of Chattahoochee Hills,” Edwards said in the post.

People across the Southside took to social media after the explosion. Initially, some thought it was an earthquake.

Once the sun came up and officials got a look around, Brett said the extent of the damage was profound.

“You begin to see just how big a debris field, how much devastation to the home,” he said. “And it really is hard to believe.”

Investigators sift through the rubble of a home destroyed when a propane tank exploded. The home's only resident was killed. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

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Authorities were still on scene Wednesday afternoon. The state fire marshal’s office is conducting an investigation.

Officials are asking drivers to avoid the area of Cochran Mill Road between Cedar Grove Road and Cascade Palmetto Highway through the end of the day.