NEW MILFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A man trying to help a New Milford homeowner repair a propane leak was killed when the house exploded, leaving only a chimney, police said.
Anthony Fratino Jr. of New Milford was killed and his 9-year-old son, Nicholas, was injured in the explosion, police said. John Wilkinson, who lives in the house with his wife, also was injured.
WCBS 880′s Paul Murnane reports
The explosion leveled the two-story, Cape-style farmhouse at about 6:40 p.m. Wednesday. Pieces of rubble were scattered over a wide area.
Police spokesman Lt. Larry Ash said Wilkinson’s wife and their two children were not at home at the time.
“The children who were originally in the home were sent to a neighbor’s,” Ash said. “The friend, from what we understand, was summoned to help fix the leak and that’s when the explosion occurred.”
Ash says the 46-year-old Wilkinson and the younger Fratino were hospitalized with severe lacerations and burns.
Rescuers said no one else was at the home when it blew up. The residence was on Sunny Valley Road, across from a nature preserve.
Neighbors up to a mile away said they felt and heard the explosion.
“We heard it, the house shook,” one woman said.
Ash said onlookers were being kept away because asbestos particles might have blown into the air.
The father of the homeowner, John Wilklinson, told WCBS 880 reporter Paul Murnane that New Milford is a generous town and the support is tremendous.
Efforts are underway to collect gift cards and clothing.
Neighbors say the family is expecting another child.
Al Mochado said the blast blew the handles off doors at his place next door and left the area in a cloud of dust.
Running next door, he said he heard sounds from under a collapsed section of roof.
“Was the child saying anything?” asked Murnane.
“Just screaming. I mean it was just a loud… You won’t forget that sound,” he said.
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