Dover explosion victim remains in critical condition

DOVER — A 41-year-old man remained in critical condition Wednesday after suffering burns from an explosion inside his second-story apartment the day before.

Authorities did not identify the Alder Park Apartments resident who was severely injured just after noon.

The victim was transported to the Crozer Burn Center in Chester, Pennsylvania, after first being taken to Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital in the immediate aftermath of the blast.

Damage to the apartment building was estimated at $250,000.

An undetermined amount of residents were displaced, officials said, and the American Red Cross arrived to provide emergency aid.

Dover and Camden firefighters at Alder Park Apartments in Dover on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Dover Fire Department Chief Carleton Carey Jr. said the first engine arrived at 51 Webbs Lane four minutes after a 911 call at 12:07 p.m., and the blaze took 40 minutes to fully suppress.

Two apartments received significant fire damage while several others sustained smoke and water damage, Chief Carey said.

The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s office is continuing to investigate and a cause and origin of the explosion will be announced publicly when determined.

The damaged building remained closed to residents on Wednesday pending an electrical system inspection, according to a Kent County Levy Court spokeswoman. Two apartments are expected to be condemned.

Chesapeake Utilities deemed the area safe after responding to the scene on Tuesday.

An attempt to reach Alder Park Partments management for comment on Wednesday was unsuccessful.

Firefighters were en route to the first incident within two minutes of the call on Tuesday. The last engine returned to the station at 3:30 p.m. after staying at the scene while the Fire Marshal and Delaware State Police investigated.

Just after the incident, a neighboring tenant described hearing a loud explosion that woke him from a nap, followed by glass hitting the ground.

The resident went outside and saw a naked man lying on the pavement, surrounded by bystanders attempting to render first aid. The resident man said the victim,  “wasn’t coherent. He was rolling around on the ground probably because he had just inhaled about two tons of smoke.”

According to the witness, the injured man’s body was “half black and the other half [had] a lot of his skin peeled off.”

Just over 12 hours later, Dover Fire Department responded to a fire alarm at the same apartment complex and found a woman had burned her hands while cooking french fries in another building, Chief Carey said.

Neighbors called the fire department at 12:35 a.m. Wednesday after hearing an alarm for 15 to 20 minutes, Chief Carey said. The apartment was filled with smoke when firefighters arrived. The apartment sustained minimal fire damage.

“The lady wasn’t even going to call it in and apologized to us when we came to her door,” Chief Carey said.

The Camden-Wyoming Fire Company also responded to the scene. A member of the Felton Community Fire Company who happened to be in the vicinity arrived in a truck as well and donned his gear, Chief Carey said.

Cheswold and Little Creek fire companies covered for Dover while on the call.

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