Authorities ID man killed in Mercer County garage fire



WEST MIDDLESEX, Pa. - Authorities have identified the man who died in a garage explosion and fire Saturday in Mercer County.

According to emergency dispatchers, crews were called to Bedford Road in West Middlesex just before 6 p.m.

“The information that we have received so far indicates that they were using some fuel -- working on some small engines, a snowmobile or an ATV -- when the explosion occurred,” said Chief of Police Riley Smoot Junior. 

Authorities said the homeowner, Thomas Kobielus, died in the blast. Kobielus’ friend was flown to an area hospital with severe burns over much of his body.

One of Kobielus’ two sons ran into the garage to try to save him. The son was treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation and released, Cross said.

“I heard some tapping and cracking, and I thought that they were working on their snowmobile, which they were doing all day," said Robert Cross, 54, who lives across the street from the fire. "And I just happened to get up, and I looked and I saw the garage was engulfed."

Officials said the fire destroyed the garage, and it will have to be torn down.

"I don't think there is anything left in there. It's still standing, but nothing is left inside," said Cross.

Channel 11’s Amy Marcinkiewicz talked to Kobielus’ wife of two months, who said the family is mourning and wants its privacy.

The Southwest Regional Police Department is investigating the fire.