New Milford, CT – The victim of an explosion at his local business remained in stable condition Friday evening, a nursing supervisor at Bridgeport Hospital said.
Greg Lee, 50, of Roxbury, suffered from second-degree burns to his face, chest and arms in the incident Thursday morning at the construction equipment repair shop he operates at 2 Allen Drive, in a commercial complex in Gaylordsville.
According to police, Lee smelled propane upon arrival at the shop at 7:45., as he had the previous evening.
When he pushed the button of the electric garage door opener, a spark ignited the propane, which caused a large explosion, according to Karen Alward, New Milford’s fire marshal.
Alward said the small fire that injured Lee was a result of the explosion. He was conscious when officials arrived and transported him to Danbury Hospital, which then sent him to Bridgeport’s burn unit.
The exact cause of the propane leak has not been determined and may not be known until the middle of next week, Alward said.
The two-story building was demolished, except for its steel frame. The boom from the explosion was felt miles away and blew out the windows of a home north of the Allen Drive complex.
A number of buildings in the area sustained structural damage from the explosion, according to Lee Hendrix, Gaylordsville fire chief. He did not think the 2 Allen Drive building was salvageable.
“We’re just digesting, making sure everyone is recovering OK,” Kevin Hart, the building’s owner, said Friday.
Hart said Timothy Beatty, who lives in a house neighboring the ruined building, told him about the explosion. Hart hasn’t decided if he will rebuild.
“It’s in the hand of our insurance agents,” he said.
It also damaged Alfredo’s Restaurant to the south, leaving an outer wall leaning inward. But after some quick fixes, the restaurant was able to receive temporary occupancy status Friday.
“We were able to open today because we put a bandage on it,” said Mimi Leto, the owner. “We were able to fix it just enough so we are OK to be temporarily open. Monday the insurance company is sending a contractor to see how to go about fixing it. There is a lot of structural damage.”
Leto said Beatty Construction, which is located in the same Allen Drive commercial park as the welding shop, cleaned up the metal, insulation and glass from the explosion.