Family, friends in mourning after Cottondale home explosion

Leon Beck00000000

Neighbors and friends are in shock after a 92-year-old man died and two others were injured after a home in Cottondale caught fire after an explosion Monday morning.

It happened just after 11 a.m. on 60th Avenue East, but residents in the area said the explosion could be heard and felt for miles.

“We were out near Lake Tuscaloosa,” said neighbor Tyler Mixon. “Near the levee, 4 miles away as the crow flies. I still can’t believe I heard that. Can’t imagine how loud that was here.”

But when Mixon arrived back home, the source of that noise was easily apparent. Fire trucks and rescue workers were everywhere, combing the home for clues into what happened and whether anyone was inside at the time.

That’s when Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue found Leon Beck dead in the home. Two others, identified by church members as Beck’s wife Helen and their son Terry, escaped the blaze with minor injuries.

“Keep the neighborhood and the family in your prayers,” Mixon said. “They definitely need it in a time like this ”

The Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue Arson Unit are handling the investigation. A cause of the blaze has not yet been released, and the arson unit investigates all fires with an unknown cause.

“Crews will continue to make the structure as safe as possible for the investigators to make entry,” said Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith.

There are no initial indications of foul play or criminal activity, the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit said Tuesday. But all unnatural and unknown causes of death are treated the same in case evidence needs preserving.

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