Deborah 'Jess' Smith killed in Hampton home explosion

A home in Hampton exploded today, killing a family friend who had been staying there.

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HAMPTON - A home in Hampton exploded today, killing a family friend who had been staying there.

State police received a call at around 7 a.m. about an explosion on New Street. Authorities say Deborah Smith was found in the basement.

Authorities believe Smith, known to friends as "Jess," survived the initial blast, but died in the subsequent fire. Neighbors reported hearing screams coming from inside the house.

It's not known what triggered the apparent explosion. State Police Lt. Stephen Jones says the home did not have natural gas. Jones says there was a large propane tank on the property.

The family that owned the home is now picking up the pieces and remembering their lost friend.

Homeowner George Tulley was at work at the time of the explosion. His family came to the home to search for the urn of his late wife, and found only fragments.

"There's a lot of heartbreak. We lost Jess today, she's a family friend," says Rae Reid. "And Dad just said he's looking at the pile and saying he has nothing left."

George Tulley's son Rob is confident his father will recover from the loss of his home and friend. "There's not a doubt he's going to pull through. He's a strong guy,” says Rob Tulley.

Smith is said to have worked at a local bar. Her co-workers released a statement saying, "Known as Jesse James by her family at the New Hampton Inn bar, she was a beautiful, loving and kindhearted person, a friend to all and loved as family."

Watch the clips to the left or click News 12 Extra on Optimum TV channel 612 for extended coverage. 

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See what people are saying about the explosion on social media:

AP wires contributed to this report.

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