House Explosion Injures Newark Area Man

by WHIZ Reporter on May 14, 2012 at 6:18 am

An area man remains in critical condition after an explosion and fire destroyed his house outside of Newark.

WHIZ Reporter Gabe Ross went to Licking County to find out more.

Just before midnight Sunday night, neighbors in this small community near Vanatta were awakened by a loud explosion.

This is all that remains of 36 Utah Avenue.

Fire Department officials are calling the house a total loss.

"I walked up there, and saw the guy was on fire, and the woman was just hysterical– Screaming and yelling," recounted neighbor, Brandon Booth

That man on fire was 40-year-old Michael Clark.

Clark’s wife and six-month-old child managed to escaped unharmed.

He was transported to Licking Memorial Hospital and life-flighted to OSU Medical Center in critical condition.

"They got her calmed down and got the guy out of here, and by the time they got him out of here the garage was pretty much burnt down," explained Booth.

Booth lives just two doors down from the home.

The blast propelled the garage door nearly 80 feet, and torched a parked car in the driveway.

"I had a firefighter who lived in that neighborhood within a half-mile– quarter mile from the scene. We went directly to the scene and reported back to me, and said the house was fully involved," said Newton Township Fire Chief, Jim Glover.

Glover said a total of six stations responded to the blaze.

Tanker trucks from other departments had to fill up from a hydrant a mile away in order to extinguish the fire.

"He was telling our squad units that the only thing he remembers was going out to the garage to smoke a cigarette, and it immediately exploded," said Glover.

State Fire Marshal investigators, along with local authorities, and crews from the Touchstone Energy Co-Op were parked along Utah Avenue Monday morning examining gas lines.

Glover said the explosion was caused by some kind of gas, although in a press release from Shane Cartmill of the State Fire Marshal’s office, the cause of the explosion and subsequent fire has not yet been determined.