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Two Confirmed Dead in Explosive Riverton House Fire

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Two people died in a house fire and explosion in Riverton on Monday, authorities have announced.

The Wyoming Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the fire as accidental, but its cause has not been announced.

The Riverton Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched along with police and other emergency responders at about 1 p.m. Monday to a home engulfed in flames from which loud explosions could be heard. The noise was later determined to have been caused by exploding oxygen tanks.

Neighbors on scene told Cowboy State Daily that in the fire’s early phases, officers asked them to go into their homes to avoid being hit by shrapnel from the exploding tanks. 

“Upon arrival there was heavy fire load in the house,” RVFD Chief Brian Hutchins said in a Tuesday statement. “It was confirmed there were two occupants unaccounted for. A search was conducted and two deceased occupants were found.”

RVFD had three fire vehicles and 15 firefighters on scene, and firefighters battled the flames from windows and through the fire-breached roof using a crane-raised scaffolding.

The Fremont County Sheriffs Office, Frontier Ambulance, and Fremont County Coroner’s office assisted on the scene. 

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At Least One Dead In Riverton House Fire

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

At least one person was killed Monday in a Riverton house fire that set off explosions involving oxygen tanks.

The identity of the person killed in the afternoon fire was not immediately released.

The large blaze gutted the home in a tightly arranged residential area of Riverton started at about 1 p.m. 

Passersby heard explosions, which Riverton Police Department Chief Eric Murphy attributed to oxygen tanks. 

At least a dozen medical oxygen tanks were heaped in the home’s front yard when a Cowboy State Daily reporter arrived on scene. 

Murphy did not know the cause of the fire as of Monday afternoon. 

Multiple fire trucks and personnel combatted the flames, which surged violently after breaching and melting the house’s metal roof. 

One truck raised a fireman carrying a hose, on a boom scaffold, over the roof, where he sprayed water directly onto the blaze as thick smoke engulfed him. 

“Just watching real heroes work,” said RPD officer Bhagya Netticumara, gesturing toward the firefighter and his peers.  

A crew equipped with oxygen and masks checked for people inside the home before 2 p.m. At 3:45 p.m., personnel wheeled a human form shrouded in black into the vehicle of the Fremont County Coroner. 

A neighbor who was home during the explosions, Gloria Ledbetter, said Judy and Larry Brockman are the residents of the home, but she did not know if they were inside during the fire. 

Ledbetter said she was praying they were not; she noted two of the couple’s vehicles were at the residence, but said they may have additional vehicles. 

Ledbetter said she was also worried for an older resident of the house, a man in a wheelchair who uses oxygen.

One of the Brockmans’ dogs scampered through the streets as the fire burned and Ledbetter said two cats escaped the flames as well.

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