A man trying to help a friend repair a propane leak was killed and his 9-year-old son and the homeowner critically injured when the house exploded, leaving only a chimney standing, Connecticut police said.
Anthony Fratino, 47, was killed in the Wednesday night blast at 117 Sunny Valley Rd. in New Milford. His son, Nicholas, and the homeowner, John Wilkinson, 46, a father of two whose wife is pregnant, were both in critical condition with burns.
"I came around the house, ran right through here, me and my wife. You tried to get the roof of the boy... we couldn't get it off, but the screaming..." said Al Machado, a neighbor. "You'll never forget that."
A preliminary investigation pointed to the propane leak as the cause of the blast. Authorities were sifting through the debris Thursday, trying to determine exactly what had happened.
The explosion shook the block, frightening neighbors and setting off an initial wave of panic.
"It was almost like a bomb went off," said neighbor Kathleen Cryspin. "The ground shook, and I ran outside. It was almost like, 'Are we being attacked?'"
Police say Wilkinson was repairing a propane leak because he smelled gas in his home. He sent his own two sons out of the house, but Fratino, who was helping with the repair brought along Nicholas.
Nicholas will be transported to a hospital in Boston to be treated for burns, authorities said.
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Published at 7:58 PM EDT on Aug 29, 2012 | Updated at 8:16 PM EDT on Aug 30, 2012