Home, Van Gutted By Flames, One Dead

First it was a reported explosion and fire at a house in Monroe County, then 10 minutes later a vehicle fire and a man was found dead inside the mini-van.

Now police believe the two fires are related.

It was one tragedy after another Monday morning in Monroe County, and neighbors said they never saw it coming.

Investigators poke through the rubble of a home along Holiday Drive at Stillwater Estates in Pocono Summit. They said it was the home that exploded and burned around 3 a.m.

Gloria Francis lives next door.

“We just heard a loud boom, so my husband jumped up and said, ‘Oh my god what is that? What is that?’ So I pulled the bedroom curtain, and there was fire on the lawn next door here,” recounted Francis.

Just ten minutes after that alarm came in a mini van was found burning a few miles away just off Fairview Road in the borough of Mount Pocono. A man was dead inside the van.

Authorities said the mini van matches one driven by the man who owned the home that exploded.

Neighbors said the man lived there for a while with a wife and two children. They apparently moved out some time ago. He spent much of his time alone.

There was never any indication their neighbor of about five years was an emotionally troubled man.

“He misses his daughters and his wife, but other than that, he didn’t seem troubled at all to me,” said neighbor Ginna Sipley.

“He’s a very quiet individual. He socialized with us very well. Since we know he’s there by himself we normally invite him over or take him with us. “

By looking at the damage to the home, and the debris found in the yard along Holiday Drive in Pocono Summit, investigators think an explosion started the whole thing.

Police said the windows and the doors of the house were blown out into the front yard, nearly reaching the street. The fire chief said there was nothing they could do to save the home.

“When we pulled up, the house was fully involved from one side to the other,” Pocono Summit Fire Chief George Tallmadge.

It took about an hour to get the fire under control. No one was hurt.

There is no positive identification on the body. Police said it was badly burned, and it might take a forensic anthropologist to make an identification.

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