An elderly man and his wife were killed Saturday night when their home in the 13000 block of Chunky Duffee Road in the community of Duffee, Newton County exploded.

The fire marshal investigated the explosion Sunday morning. Investigators will meet with Newton County Sheriff Jackie Knight Monday morning. Until then, officials declined to answer questions about the explosion.

Knight said that one of the three men from the fire marshal's office specialized in gas investigations, the suspected cause of the explosion.

"I've been told that (the deceased man) takes the heaters out of his house in the summer and reconnects them in the winter," said Knight, adding that the man had bought supplies to reconnect his heater at a hardware store earlier that day.

"But right now it would all be speculation" Knight said.

Two drones, from the Philadelphia Fire Service and Meridian Public Safety Training Facility, surveyed the remains from above, taking photos and video to determine the spread of the debris. 

"We brought the drones out at the request of the state fire marshal," said John Williamson, the director of the Newton County Emergency Management Agency. 

Neighbors gathered Sunday morning to see the still-smoking destruction. All that remains standing of the home is a chimney. A small structure, possibly a shed, still stands in the backyard. Insulation from the home blew in the Sunday breeze, sending it across the street into neighbors' yards.

Glass, metal, wood and drywall cover the dry grass and trees lining the property. A red metal door, twisted almost beyond recognition and without its glass window, lies only a few yards from the road and pieces of the bordering fence are missing.

Bystanders pointed at the few remaining objects, including a glass garden globe, a small windmill and an American flag flapping in the wind on a pole in the front yard.

Community members who stood at the scene Sunday morning said they could hear the explosion from miles away. 

James Harrison, a neighbor, said he went to the same school as the man and that they grew up together.

"It's hard to imagine," said the 82-year-old Harrison, only a few years older than the man. "They were great people."

Knight said he would release the names of the deceased Monday morning.

Paula Merritt contributed to this report.

React to this story:


Trending Video