Daphne, AL – By David Ferrara – A Daphne man severely burned in an explosion in his garage has since died
from his injuries.
Richard Krantz, 55, died of burns from a blast that occurred Friday when he inadvertently ignited a natural gas leak at his nearly 3-month-old home, fire and medical officials said.
Investigators from the state fire marshal’s office, Daphne Utilities and insurance agents continued to look into the cause of the
blast, said Daphne Fire Marshal Chip Martin.
Krantz suffered first- and second-degree burns to 90 percent of his body in the explosion. As of Wednesday, investigators had not determined what caused the leak or how much gas escaped into the garage, Martin said.
The family had previous problems with the water heater, Martin said, and Krantz had apparently tried to light it when the blast occurred.
The force of the explosion launched the garage door 115 feet, careening off a minivan in the driveway before landing in the street, Martin said. The explosion also damaged the kitchen ceiling and garage, he said.
Krantz’s wife and two of his children inside the home at the time of the explosion were unharmed, Martin said.
The blast rendered the house uninhabitable, Martin said.
Attorneys with the Mobile law firm Cunningham, Bounds, Yance, Crowder & Brown filed a negligence lawsuit Tuesday in Baldwin County Civil Court against Mitchell Homes, A.O. Smith Water Products Co. and Michael Reinhart of Fairhope, according to court records.
Reinhart, a warranty representative with the water products company, said another worker had been called to the home last Thursday because of a complaint about the water heater. That person had replaced a heat-sensitive instrument called a “thermocouple,” which, he said, automatically shuts the gas valve off when the pilot light is unlit. A thermocouple typically works as a safety measure to help prevent an explosion like the one that occurred in Krantz’s garage, he said.Reinhart said he had never been to the home.