- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

RUSK, Texas (AP) - A family member of an elderly East Texas couple burned in a gas explosion says the blast probably saved their lives.

Cherokee County Sheriff Capt. John Raffield says Wendell and Jean Nealey were hospitalized after the Monday night explosion at their trailer. He says the couple lit a heater and that gas ignited after the woman lit a cigarette.

Doctors tell family member Terra Loden that if the couple had gone to bed, the gas probably would have killed them in their sleep.

Loden says her great uncle suffered burns to 11 percent of his body and his wife 13 percent. She says the couple is in their late 70s or early 80s and she described their condition as stable on Tuesday.

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