Hundreds of people gathered in New Milford on Thursday night to honor the man who died in a tragic house explosion. They also came together to support the family of the victim and the two others who are still recovering at the hospital.
The tight-knit community in New Milford has been devastated since Wednesday’s explosion on Sunny Valley Road.
“I heard someone had been killed, I didn’t know it was Tony,” his friend Tom Wedick said.
Tony Fratino Jr., 47, was trying to help the homeowner, John Wilkinson, 46, fix a propane leak. “He'll be missed terribly -- terribly,” Wedick said.
Seconds later, Fratino died when the blast tore the home apart.
“This is what Tony did, he put his cap on and helped a friend. He would help anybody with anything,” Wedick added.
Wilkinson and Fratino’s 9-year-old son Nick were rushed to the hospital and are still recovering from some very serious burns and lacerations. Both have a long road to recovery and the little boy’s friends are heartbroken, unsure of when they could see him next.
The explosion also rattled several people who didn’t know the victims. Many heard it from across town and called 911.
It was an explosion that shook up this town and residents have started to find strength in each other while trying to heal.
Neighbors set up the Facebook page, New Milford Explosion Community Relief, to help the families.
Checks can be made payable to the "Fratino Family Support Fund" and the "Wilkinson Family Support Fund," which are both set up at the Community Credit Union of New Milford, 145 Danbury Road, New Milford 06776.
A bake sale is planned in Bethel for Sept. 8.