State Police: Propane Leak Sparked Fatal Explosion In New Milford

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The scene of a house explosion on Sunny Valley Road in New Milford last year. (Fox CT)

NEW MILFORD — A house explosion that killed a man and seriously injured his son and the homeowner last year was caused by a propane leak, the state police said Tuesday.

The blast leveled the house at 109 Sunny Valley Road owned by John Wilkinson, 57. A friend, Anthony J. Fratino III, died. Wilkinson and Fratino’s son were seriously injured.

Only the house’s chimney was standing after the Aug. 29, 2012 blast.

Wilkinson had sent his two children away when he started working on the house’s propane tank that day, police said. His wife was not home, either.

His friend, Anthony Fratino, who was 48, came over with his son to help him make the repairs.

Police said the liquid propane gas line had not been properly capped after a liquid propane dryer was removed from the home about nine years earlier.

The gas line was inadvertently opened by contractors during installation of a hot water heater and piping system upgrade, allowing the propane to flow freely in to the basement area.

As Wilkinson and Fratino looked into the odor, an ignition source that police did not identify sparked the explosion, police said.

By Christine Dempsey, Hartford Courant

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