BENTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Fire officials in Berrien County say an oxygen tank was responsible for a deadly explosion that erupted late Saturday night. Officials are still investigating what caused the fire that ultimately ignited the tank.
Another woman, Norma Hoffman – Joshua Hoffman's mother – was severely burned. She is in a Kalamazoo hospital in critical condition. A family member tells WSBT she is on life support and 25 percent of her body is covered in burns.
The explosion could be heard from miles away and rattled homes for blocks. It happened around 11:45 Saturday night in the 1000 block of N. Euclid Avenue in Benton Township.
"It took us about two and a half, three minutes to get here," said Lt. John Cayo with the Benton Twp. Fire Department. "When we arrived on scene we found the house was completely involved. There was fire coming out of every opening – where the windows used to be, where the door used to be."
According to investigators, one person inside of the home saw a bright light coming from a bedroom. That light was the beginning of the fire.
"There was a woman in that room, she was on fire as well," Cayo said.
An oxygen tank then exploded. Six people were inside of the home. Cindy Turner and Joshua Hoffman were unable to get out.
The exact cause of the fire isn't known. But one possibility is that someone had been smoking near the oxygen.
"Possibility is they could have been smoking, but until they investigate further, that's just speculation," Cayo said.
The state fire marshal is investigating the blaze. It could take a few days for his investigation into the cause to be complete.