Cause of Fowler Fire Released; 2nd Man Dies
Another man has died from the injuries he suffered during the fire.
Omaha, NE -- A second person has died in an explosion that rocked a north Omaha neighborhood, and investigators have released a cause.
The Omaha Fire Department says it was improperly stored gasoline that ignited the basement furnace.
Five people were transported to the hospital from the fire that happened at 37th & Fowler Ave. on Tuesday. 66-year-old Merlin Gardner died from his injuries on Wednesday, and 39-year-old Billy Boyer passed away Friday morning. Boyer's mother Ruth Clark, who was inside the home when the explosion happened, says she's going through hell. She hopes her close friend Joe Mangiameli, who’s still in the hospital in critical condition, pulls through.
"I lost my fiancé the first day, and now I lose my son. I've got one more and he's going to pull through because he's going to show everybody how strong he is,” Clark explained. "They're good people. It was an accident that shouldn't have happened, but it happened."
Investigators say the fire was caused by gasoline being improperly stored in 5-gallon water containers in the basement of the home. Three men were inside the basement and one was moving a container when ruptured. The vapors from the spilled fuel ignited when they reached the pilot light of a nearby gas furnace. The three men were trapped by the fire, one managed to escape to the front door of the home. Firefighters rescued the other two men who were unconscious in the basement.
"Billy had brought it in the house and started to put it in the basement. I told him to take it out of the house," Clark described.
Clark says there was no drug activity going on in her home.
The Omaha Police Department says they are investigating whether any criminal activity was going on at the home.