A Fresh Meadows man was found dead in his home Monday morning after an explosion that authorities believe was a suicide.
Firefighters responded to the home at around 11 a.m. after receiving reports of an explosion. There they found a small fire which was extinguished within a half hour. The siding was charred, melted and blackened by smoke just above one window that neighbors said belonged to the master bedroom. The man was found dead inside, police said. No one else was injured in the blaze.
Fire Department officials would not disclose a cause for the blaze Tuesday afternoon, but a police source said the incident was being investigated as arson and confirmed that the death was believed to have been a suicide.
The man in his 50s lived in the two-story, peaked home on 188th Street with his girlfriend and her adult daughter, friends said. The woman was in the process of breaking up with him, friends said.
A friend of the deceased man described him as sensitive and said he had called the previous night to say he was about to go away on a trip. Another family friend and an insurance adjuster both said police told the woman the death was a suicide.
Neighbors were shocked when they noticed a pillar of smoke about 40 feet high billowing from the house that morning.
“I heard a loud explosion,” said John Fraccalvieri, 75, who lives across the street. “It was like three or four cannons going off. I knew it was a gas explosion because the smoke was yellow.”
Next-door neighbor Ellen Schiavone, 69, said the woman who owns the house was not home when the explosion occurred.
“She was in tears,” Schiavone said of the woman’s reaction when she learned someone had been caught in the blast. “She did not know there was anyone in the house.”
Several neighbors said the family has lived on the block for five years and described them as quiet and keeping mostly to themselves.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cn
©2009 Community News Group
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