Body of adult male found in rubble of Thornton house explosion

THORNTON, Colo. - Searchers have found the body of an adult male killed when a Thornton home suddenly exploded Thursday afternoon, the fire chief confirms.

The explosion occurred at 13072 Monroe Dr., near the intersection of Cottonwood Lakes Boulevard and Monroe Drive.

"There's still a lot of rubble on site," said city of Thornton spokeswoman Lisa Wilson. "We had crews there 'til late into the night. They did quite a bit of work, but again there’s a lot to still be done."

Wilson said a cadaver dog targeted two separate areas in the home during the initial search. After the area was made safe, the body was found in the basement around 10 a.m. Friday.

"Our fears were realized, we've discovered a body in the rubble," said Fire Chief John Staley.

Staley said the body may be that of a third roommate who was reported missing, but the person's age and identity cannot be confirmed until the Coroner can examine the body. The third roommate has lived at the home for 10 to 11 years.

The body will not be moved until the cause of the explosion is determined, Staley said.

As for the cause, Staley said the investigation has not reached a conclusion but, "We're still believing an explosion and some type of gas."

Wilson said crews brought heavy equipment into the neighborhood to clean debris off near rooftops and in trees. The debris field stretches for about two square blocks.

Very little of the home that exploded remained. Debris was piled atop two cars and an RV. The only recognizable part of the remaining structure appears to be part of a garage.

The siding of a neighboring home was knocked off in the blast, exposing the insulation beneath.

Neighbors say the explosion was heard for miles.

"I immediately hopped my fence, went over and started calling out for anybody -- to see if anybody would respond," said Noah Russell who lives behind the house.

Russell said he and his father grabbed a garden hose and started spraying the fire.

"A dog came out of the flames that was badly burned, so I jumped in and I grabbed him," he said.

"It started off as just black smoke and then a fire that was about 7 feet tall," said neighbor Erin Madigan, who captured the fire on her cell phone.

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