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Jul 22, 2009 11:19 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Father injured following explosion at Hampton Bays home

Jul 22, 2009 11:19 AM

A Hampton Bays man had to be airlifted to the hospital Monday night, and his wife and son were left homeless, after a gas explosion severely damaged their Shinnecock Road home.

The victim, identified as Ronald Villalobos by friend and neighbor Virginia Tran, was transported by Suffolk County Medevac helicopter to Stony Brook University Medical Center.

“His hair was charred,” said Ms. Tran, who lives next door to Mr. Villalobos. “He looked like he was in a lot of pain.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Stony Brook hospital representatives declined to release any information about his condition.

Ms. Tran said Tuesday that Mr. Villalobos ran to her home shortly after the explosion, which occurred at around 7:45 p.m. Monday, and asked her to call 911. She explained that Mr. Villalobos’s 5-year-old son, Sebastian, was in the shower at the time and the boy’s mother, Laura Fernandez, grabbed him, wrapped him in a towel and then ran out of the burning house.

Ms. Tran said Sebastian and his mother were not seriously injured in the explosion. She added that they were currently staying with Ms. Fernandez’s parents at their home in East Hampton.

A liquid petroleum tank was stored outside the couple’s cottage, though the explosion appears to have occurred in the home’s boiler room, according to Southampton Town Fire Marshal Brian Williams.

Mr. Williams, who was taking photographs at the scene on Tuesday afternoon, said fire officials have not yet determined a cause for the explosion. However, he said they do not suspect foul play.

“Right now, it is still under investigation,” he said, adding that the rental home appeared to be in compliance with the town’s fire code.

Outside the cottage, debris littered the yard and the distinct smell of smoke hung in the air nearly 24 hours after the explosion. Bits of insulation could be seen hanging from the ceiling of the cottage Tuesday afternoon as a man began the process of boarding up windows that were charred by the flames.

The Southampton Town Police Department on Tuesday confirmed the names of the victims, though they declined to release any additional information about the explosion.

Representatives of the Hampton Bays Fire Department did not return calls seeking comment.

Neighbor Gail Shepard, who lives about 60 feet from the small cottage, said she heard Mr. Villalobos yelling in Spanish seconds before the explosion Monday night.

“I saw steam above the house,” Ms. Shepard said. “There was steam coming out of the vent pipes and, within 10 seconds, black smoke.”

A few seconds later, she said, the house exploded. “The whole front of the house blew out in flames,” Ms. Shepard said. “They must have been between 20 and 25 feet high.”

Ms. Shepard said the cottage, which she estimated was built in either the 1920s or 1930s, has either four or five rooms and a small wood-burning stove.

Ms. Tran said she became friends with Mr. Villalobos and his wife shortly after they moved into the home in May. “He’ll do anything for anyone,” she said. “He loves his son to pieces.”

Members of the East Quogue Fire Department and Hampton Bays Ambulance Company also responded to the scene.

Staff writer Bryan Finlayson contributed to this story.

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Questions: What is a, "liquid petroleum tank"? Is that different from a gas can?
If the gas was stored outside the cottage, why was the explosion inside?
Is the description of the force of the explosion meant to imply an
explosive vapor more potent than gasoline, perhaps, "ether"?
Was this a meth lab?
By highhatsize (3361), East Quogue on Jul 21, 09 1:59 PM
An LP gas tank is what you would use for a BBQ or gas stove. Meth lab? Are you really that retarted? You should think before commenting.
By BigL11946 (29), Hampton Bays on Jul 21, 09 2:42 PM
Commonly called, "propane", and NOT liquid petroleum. LPG is the gas that is found along with petroleum and that is pressurized to liquefaction. It was the reporter's description that led me to ask those questions. Last time I checked, I was no more retarted (sic) than usual.
By highhatsize (3361), East Quogue on Jul 21, 09 5:52 PM
HEY SOUTHAMPTON FIRE DEPT ALSO RESPONDED TO THE FIRE
By fdny7318 (60), Water Mill on Jul 23, 09 10:06 AM
Remnants, area rugs, rolls in stock