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Blast rocks former home of 'Beverly Hillbillies' star Buddy Ebsen

An explosion on Balboa Island at the former home of the late "The Beverly Hillbillies" actor Buddy Ebsen caused a fire about 10 a.m. Wednesday, a Newport Beach fire official said.

A small portable gas tank for a boat kept in the home's basement leaked fuel vapors that were ignited by the pilot light for a water heater, Newport Beach Fire Department spokesman Glenn White said.

"This caused an explosion that ripped the lock off of the basement double doors and blew the doors open," he said.

Nobody was injured in the blast or subsequent fire.

More than 20 firefighters responded to the scene and put out the blaze in about 20 minutes, according to the department.

Ebsen is best known for his role as Jed Clampett on "The Beverly Hillbillies."

He was a Newport Beach resident and Balboa Bay Club member before he died in 2003 at the age of 95.

The house in the 500 block of South Bay Front is for sale for about $9 million, White said.

The basement is used as storage for a youth yacht club while renters occupy the main two-story home, he added.

Most of the house only suffered smoke damage with flames contained to the basement, White said.

White said water heaters in utility areas are required by code to be elevated off the ground with a 30-inch pedestal, something that might have prevented the explosion in this case.

"Fuel vapors are heavier than air," he said.


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