By: Richard L. Smith
In the early morning hours of October 31, a quiet neighborhood in Stafford Township was rattled by a sudden and tragic event.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer has revealed that the Stafford Township Police Department received an urgent call regarding an explosion and subsequent structure fire at a residence on Neptune Drive.
As responding officers rushed to the scene, Ocean County officials said they discovered a male victim on the front lawn of the house. The man was later identified as the homeowner, Mr. Kevin Thomas, 45 years old.
Mr. Thomas had suffered severe burns to his upper torso as a result of the explosion.
Swiftly, he was airlifted to the Temple Burn Center in Philadelphia in critical condition. However, despite the best efforts of medical professionals, Mr. Thomas succumbed to his injuries.
The investigation into this tragic incident was carried out by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, the Stafford Township Detective Bureau, the Ocean County Fire Marshal's Office, and the Ocean County Sheriff's Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit. Their collective efforts led to significant findings.
Authorities have determined that the explosion originated from the residence's southwest corner bedroom. The cause of this catastrophic event was the release of propane gas from a tank, which came into contact with an open flame.
The resulting ignition triggered the explosion that claimed Mr. Thomas's life and caused extensive damage to the home.
As investigators continue to delve into the details surrounding this heart-wrenching incident, the community is left mourning the loss of Mr. Thomas and grappling with the shock of a tragic event that has forever altered their neighborhood.