Midland, TX – By David J. Lee, Odessa American, MIDLAND — An early morning house fire in Midland killed a 49-year-old Midland man.

David Watkins, 2803 Mariana Ave., died Wednesday afternoon at the Lubbock Burn Center. Alan Kilgore, fire inspector for the Midland Fire Marshal’s Office, said Watkins’ home exploded about 6 a.m. Wednesday. He said the explosion was loud enough to wake up Watkins’ neighbors.

“Witnesses said they heard a loud explosion and found the fire shortly after,” Kilgore said.

Kilgore said when Midland firefighter got to the house, they found Watkins, the sole occupant, sitting on the backporch.

“He was badly, badly burned, but he was conscious and talking to us,” Kilgore said.

He said the three-bedroom house was destroyed and was no longer inhabitable. “The damage was severe,” Kilgore said. “It’s structurally unsound. It blew out the windows and doors.”

Kilgore said he’s determined the fire began with a natural gas explosion, but he would continue his investigation today.