WILLARD Authorities have confirmed that former Huron River Joint Fire District firefighter Dennis J. "Bug" Didion died in the explosion that destroyed his 4049 Egypt Road home early Thursday morning.
His wife Susie was in Cleveland when the explosion occurred. A relative said Dennis Didion, 52, was working on a gas leak in the basement at the time of the explosion.
Shane Cartmill, spokesman for the state fire marshal, confirmed Didion's death Thursday afternoon. He said the home sustained extensive damage from an "explosion of natural gas into the home." Investigators are attempting to determine if the blaze, which remains under investigation, is suspicious.
"We're not even sure if there were smoke detectors because (of the extent) of the fire," Cartmill said.
Huron County Coroner Dr. Jeffrey Harwood said the Willard Fire Department received a report of the blaze about 2 a.m. Thursday, indicating there was a single occupant. The coroner said investigators found Didion dead in his basement between 11:30 and 11:45 a.m.
"We used dogs from the Northern Ohio Search Emergency Services to locate (the) victim," Fire Chief Richard Myers wrote in a press release.
By 10 a.m., firefighters had extinguished all the hot spots and were digging through the basement, Capt. Max Helton said earlier.
Helton said neighbors reported hearing two distinct explosions, one of which completely demolished the east wall of the home. The structure was completely engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.
Harwood had no information on the exact cause of Didion's death, but said the Lucas County Coroner's Office in Toledo was expected to perform an autopsy today. Once the autopsy is completed, doctors will send Harwood a preliminary report with further test results coming in several weeks.
Three state fire marshals were on scene assisting with the investigation.
Cartmill said the fire and explosion investigators arrived "shortly after the fire department," estimating they were there from 3 a.m. until Thursday afternoon.
Huron County sheriff's deputies also responded to the blaze.
Harwood, the coroner since 1996, guessed the last fire-related fatalities in Huron County were three to five years ago. He said a woman died during a Jefferson Street blaze and a man was killed during a trailer fire near a U.S. 20 hotel.