Man killed in 'suspicious' blast near Mount Airy

January 19, 1993|By Bill Talbott | Bill Talbott,Staff Writer

An explosion and fire described as "very suspicious" kille one man and slightly injured three other occupants of a $l converted barn-apartment dwelling near Mount Airy early yesterday.

The explosion blew out the walls and toppled the roof of the concrete and wood structure on a farm in the 4800 block of Westwind Drive, south of Interstate 70 and about two miles west of town in the rolling Frederick County countryside.

Deputy State Fire Marshal Bob Thomas said the victim's body was burned beyond recognition and identification, using dental records, is pending an autopsy.

The victim was believed to have been a man in his 50s and was found under the debris.

The body was taken to the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore for an autopsy to determine, among other things, whether the man was dead before the explosion or died in the fire, a Frederick County arson investigator said.

Deputy Fire Marshal Charles Cronauer said he did not know the cause of the explosion, but referred to the shattered area as a "crime scene. When there is question to cause and origin, it's a crime scene."

Investigators said a telephone wire to the building had been cut and tires were punctured on several automobiles parked nearby, possibly to prevent anyone in the building from seeking help.

However, one of the occupants drove his car -- with a flattened right rear tire -- off the farm to notify fire officials of the explosion, said a Frederick deputy sheriff.

One of the other residents, Bijan Koshky, 30, who occupied the second-floor apartment directly over the victim's residence, said was asleep and "I heard nothing until the loud explosion that blew me out of the building, with the ceiling and part of the roof on top of me."

He said he saw "the whole house on fire" when he crawled out of the debris through a small hole.

"I ran to my car and backed it away from the fire," Mr. Koshky said.

It was then, he said, that he discovered that both his front tires had been punctured.

Mr. Koshky, who owns carpet stores in Ellicott City and Mount Airy, said, "I had a lot of Persian rugs in there and all the papers from the stores including the taxes, burned up. Everything is gone."

David Conners, 66, and Keith Hubble, 32, also escaped the explosion, apparently with only minor injuries.

They refused immediate medical treatment at the scene.

Mr. Koshky at first refused medical treatment but later said he believed he may have a fractured rib and would seek treatment.

Three bomb technicians, from Howard, Frederick and Washington counties, were sent to the scene to sift through debris with investigators for clues to the source of the blast and fire.

Frederick County arson investigators and a Carroll County arson specialist with a specially trained dog also were at the scene throughout the day.

They said there was no natural gas line to the building, and that it was heated by electricity -- likely ruling out a furnace malfunction.

Officials said several full cans of gasoline were found in the driveway near the parked cars and were confiscated to be examined for fingerprints.

The victim was found in the northeast corner of the building, where debris from the explosion had blown out and blocked a second driveway.

The victim's car was found about 500 yards from the building, parked on Westwind Road facing away from the farm, officials said.

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