— A tranquil, riverfront community was rocked after a house exploded Sunday night, killing a couple in their 70s.
A reported propane gas explosion leveled the two-story wooden structure on the banks of the Upper Delaware River shortly after 10 p.m., killing Frank and Carol Kay, said mourning neighbors Monday.
Today would have been Frank Kay's 75th birthday, said neighbor Ray Manfray.
The couple had four grown children, neighbors said.
Neighbors described the scene that unfolded late Sunday night.
"It sounded like a bomb," said Fred Donatelli, a neighbor and friend.
Fellow Damascus resident Michael Tesseyman said, "It shook the whole town."
Emergency workers were on the scene the entire night. The second body was not found until late Monday morning, said state police Fire Marshal Steve Kaneski of the Dunmore barracks.
Neighbors and relatives identified the Kays as the victims, but officials wouldn't confirm the identities because the investigation is continuing.
Wayne County Coroner Edward Howell confirmed "the discovery of two deceased individuals at the scene of the River Road incident in Damascus Township, Wayne County."
Positive identification and cause and manner of death are pending an investigation and conclusive results will be released in the "near future," according to the coroner.
The house was reduced to a pile of charred rubble, with visible debris including a destroyed microwave and scorched box springs and insulation.
Neighbors and family members comforted each other at the scene Monday morning.
A sprouting vegetable garden was covered with burnt debris.
"They were so proud of that garden," Manfray said.
Manfray and his wife were almost among the victims.
He and his wife, Barbara, along with his brother-in-law Andy Ray and his wife, Pat, were out with the Kays Sunday evening. Others were there, too.
"We sang 'Happy Birthday' and everything," Manfray said, noting Monday was Frank Kay's birthday.
The Kays invited the couples in for coffee, but the couples declined due to the time of night.
About 10 minutes later, the house exploded, said Andy Ray.
The Kays had operated a flea market in Callicoon for over 30 years before retiring.
Several neighbors mingled near the scene on Monday, speaking of how much they will miss the Kays.
"They were great people. They would do anything for you," said Andy Ray, who knew the couple for over 30 years.
Manfray added solemnly, "We had a lot of laughs together."
Another neighbor, Richard O'Dell, said, "They were generally all-around good people."
Fred and Barbara Donatelli said the Kays were always involved in the community and willing to help others.
"I was numb (upon hearing the news) and I'm still numb," said a teary Barbara Donatelli.
Donatelli noted how her children were taught in school by Carol Kay, a former math teacher.
Equinunk Volunteer Fire Chief John Moss said the call came in as an explosion with possible entrapment. The structure's remains were fully engulfed when firefighters arrived.
Jeff Dexter of Damascus Volunteer Ambulance said, "The house was destroyed" upon arrival.
It took fire crews at least two hours to get the flames under control.
About 65 to 70 firefighters responded and crews were at the scene through the night.