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Law enforcement sources say Cranberry car explosion, fire was suicide

CRANBERRY, Pa. — A body was found inside the burned-out remains of a car in Cranberry Friday evening.

Viewer video sent to Channel 11 showed massive flames engulfing the vehicle as it sat in the parking lot near Moe’s and Red Robin on Route 228. Firefighters told Channel 11 the vehicle exploded.

On Tuesday, law enforcement sources told Channel 11 they believe this was a suicide. Officials said nobody is wanted in connection with the incident, police are not looking for anyone and the community is not in any danger. The person who died has been identified as Mark Jenks.

Firefighters said they were called shortly after 5 p.m. for reports of the fire.

Here is a map showing where the car exploded:

“It was crazy. It was like a war zone. You never see a fire like that in real life,” explained Cenci’s Pizzeria & Bar owner Mike Cenci.

Cenci was working inside his restaurant off Route 228 around dinnertime on Friday when a car exploded in the parking lot near Red Robin, Moe’s, Jimmy Wans and Cenci’s.

“What happened was one of my guys came running in (saying), ‘look, Mike, there’s a car on fire!,’ and I came running out; I saw it engulfed in flames. So we ran over and I heard all the tires explode,” Cenci explained.

It wasn’t until after the fire was put out that Cranberry Township Police said Jenks’ body was discovered.

Cenci says the blast happened during the busiest time of the week in a popular plaza where a lot of families eat. It was shortly after 5 p.m. when first responders were called for reports of a fire.

“Very unexpected and concerning; there were a lot of new employees starting right at 5 o’clock. So, I was first worried it was one of them,” Cenci said.

Channel 11 spoke exclusively with a woman whose car was parked just a few spots over from where the car exploded. The charred asphalt and pieces of broken glass on the ground can still be seen. She showed the damage to her car and told us about the moment she felt the blast.

“The building shook. I was in the middle of attending the bar,” Cenci’s employee, Sharon King explained.

King was at the end of her shift at Cenci’s when the car exploded. She says her boyfriend parked her car several feet away from the blast.

A Cenci’s customer, Chris Grimm, shared this video with us — showing King’s boyfriend running to move her car out of the way after the explosion.

“Pretty unexpected to see the flames and the black smoke. Everyone just congregated outside just to see, but it was scary,” King detailed.

Butler State Police and the fire marshal were assisting in collecting evidence and determining the cause of the explosion.