A chimney is all that remains after a massive explosion in New Milford that killed one man and injured two others, including a 9-year-old boy.
Rubble from house explosion in New Milford.
Crews were on the scene of the New Milford explosion overnight.
NEW MILFORD, CT (WFSB) -
One man is dead and two others, including a 9-year-old boy, were seriously injured in a massive house explosion in New Milford on Wednesday evening.
The blast was reported on Sunny Valley Road near Route 7 just before 7 p.m. and reduced the home to a pile of smoldering rubble with only the chimney left standing.
According to witnesses, there was a strong odor of propane in the air shortly before the explosion, and the homeowner, identified as John Wilkinson, 46, immediately sent his children to a neighbor's home and called his friend, a self-employed plumber identified as Anthony Fratino, 47, to help him fix the leak.
A short time later the house exploded.
"It was like a bomb going off," said Russell Kincaide of New Milford. "People don't hear that noise unless they've been in a war."
Kincaide said he rushed outside as soon as he heard and felt the massive explosion. He said from his backyard he has a clear view of the home just a quarter-mile away.
His view has forever been changed.
"You know, the whole house just shook," said neighbor, Rob Dempster. "It was something I had never quite experienced before. It's the scariest thing I think I've ever experienced."
Police said Fratino was killed in the blast, and his 9-year-old son, Nicholas, who went with his father to the home, was critically injured.
Nicholas was brought to a Boston hospital where he was listed in critical condition, and Wilkinson, whose pregnant wife wasn't home at the time of the explosion, was brought to Bridgeport Hospital's Burn Center.
Both victims suffered serious lacerations and burns all over their bodies, emergency officials said.
The child was brought to a hospital in Boston, according to police.
"We believe [the explosion] is the result of a propane leak," said Lt. Larry Ashe, of the New Milford Fire Department. "The state's fire marshal's office will make that determination."
Neighbors said the couple had been working on the home and had a new, tankless water heater installed hours before the explosion.
Kincaide said it's hard to stomach in this small town.
"It's devastating," he said. "What a shame."
Late Thursday afternoon, the chimney, which was the only item still standing after the explosion, came down. Crews have started going through the debris and into the basement. Crews will be on scene on Friday as well.
Community members already have set up a Facebook page to help gather donations for the families affected by the blast. They are asking for donations of clothing and gift cards. For more information or to help out, you can visit the page by clicking here.
According to the Facebook group, a prayer vigil for both of the families affected by the explosion will be held at the John Pettibone School Field at 6:30 p.m.
The New Milford Police Department is continuing to investigate the explosion.
Copyright 2012 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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