Grand Rapids, MI – Kalamazoo – A faulty water heater is believed to be the cause of a Wednesday-night fire that killed a Watson Township man in Allegan County.

Mark Curtis, 47, died in the fire, which was reported at 7:24 p.m. at 2311 112th Ave.

Otsego Fire Chief Jim Clark said that the victim’s father indicated that he had been trying to light a water heater on the first floor of the home when an explosion occurred.

“He said he had been having some problems with it,” Clark said. “He was trying to light it, smelled propane, and then it exploded.”

The father said he was blown back by the blast, got to his feet and tried to get upstairs, where his son was in a bedroom. There was too much smoke and fire, though, so he went outside and tried to enter through the upstairs window using a ladder.

Clark said that the fire rose quickly in the home, possibly because it is an older wooden structure.

It appears Curtis died of smoke inhalation, Clark said.

The Allegan County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to assist the Otsego Fire Department, Allegan Township Fire Department and Allegan City Fire Department at the scene.

The Michigan State Police fire marshal is investigating.