Lakewood, NJ (Ocean) – In a tragic incident, a structure fire erupted following an explosion at the Lakewood Housing Authority on Sampson Avenue on November 1, 2023. The explosion resulted in serious injuries to a male victim, identified as Ronald Prichard, 67, who was the sole occupant of the housing unit. Despite being rushed to Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus in Lakewood, Mr. Prichard unfortunately succumbed to his injuries.
The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, in collaboration with the Lakewood Police Department Township Detective Bureau, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, conducted an extensive investigation into the incident. Their findings revealed that the explosion originated in the bedroom of the housing unit and was caused by the release of natural gas coming into contact with an open flame.
Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer expressed his appreciation to all the agencies involved for their collective efforts in conducting a thorough investigation into the incident. The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit all played a vital role in unraveling the details surrounding the explosion and subsequent fire.
The incident serves as a tragic reminder of the potential dangers associated with gas leaks and the importance of proper safety measures. Authorities continue to emphasize the need for residents to remain vigilant and promptly report any suspected gas leaks or unusual odors to the relevant authorities.
As investigations into the incident continue, the community mourns the loss of Ronald Prichard and offers condolences to his family and loved ones during this difficult time. The incident highlights the importance of fire safety awareness and serves as a reminder for individuals to ensure their homes are equipped with functional smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.