Sheriff identifies man killed in Wisconsin house explosion

MANAWA, Wis. (WBAY/Gray News) - A Wisconsin man died after his home exploded while he was likely still sleeping Sunday morning, WBAY reports.

The Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office identified the deceased as 64-year-old Mark Steven Zielke. An obituary for Zielke said a memorial mass will be held Aug. 20 at Most Precious Blood Catholic Church in New London.

No other injuries have been reported.

Officials on scene Sunday said they had never seen anything like the explosion that left the male homeowner dead.

The explosion happened at the intersection of County Highway N. and County Road T. Witnesses tell Action 2 News they heard the explosion at about 8:45 a.m. Sunday.

“The male victim was located in the house, so we believe he was possibly still sleeping,” said Sheriff Tim Wilz

Linda Johnson lives across the intersection from where the explosion happened. She got home from church just after it occurred.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Johnson. “I couldn’t get through, all the debris was in the road, and I said, ‘It looks like our neighbor’s house blew up.’”

Wilz and Manawa Rural Fire Chief Rob Rosenau said they had never seen anything like it before.

“Only on TV," said Rosenau. "And we’re always hoping it’s not in our area but unfortunately we have it in our area today.”

“When I arrived, I had all the fire personnel here and it was totally obliterated," added Wilz. “The entire building was leveled.”

Personnel from the Waupaca County Sheriff's Office, Manawa Fire Department, Iola Fire Department, Marion Fire Department and Scandinavia Fire Department were all on scene.

“When we came here, there was debris scattered all over the place and a small fire inside the house,” said Rosenau.

That debris spread at least 500 ft., damaging some of the nearby properties like Johnson’s. That intersection was blocked off for hours as crews investigated the cause of the explosion and cleared off the roads.

At this point, a cause for the explosion has not been determined.

“The fire marshal and his team are right now done and complete with the initial [investigation], however, the insurance companies will have their own team of investigators as well,” said Wilz.

Whatever the cause, Johnson’s neighbor of 40 years is now gone and an entire family is affected.

“I just feel bad for them," said Johnson. "I mean they lost everything.”

Rosenau anticipates there will be more information released in the coming days.

Copyright 2019 WBAY via Gray Television Group, Inc. All rights reserved.