TOWN of LAMARTINE – A town of Lamartine man died Saturday when a homemade meat smoker exploded.
Richard L. Zabel, 55, was found dead at 1:19 p.m. inside a machine shed at W9184 Johnson Road.
Lt. of Detectives Cameron McGee said the Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident.
"The North Fond du Lac Ambulance and Lamartine First Responders were called to the scene for the initial report that someone had fallen. When investigators arrived on scene, they discovered that a 55-year-old man was dead inside the building," McGee said.
McGee said Zabel was cooking turkeys and chickens in the meat smoker. According to online records, the property where the explosion occurred is owned by Bernard and Vicki Giebel. Zabel lives nearby.
"Evidence indicates that the flame on the LP burner went out and as a result the gas continued to accumulate inside the smoker," McGee said. "And when (Zabel) went to relight the burner, the spark from the lighter caused the gas to explode."
McGee said the force of the explosion caused the heavy-duty door of the smoker to blow open, striking Zabel in the head, killing him instantly.
"When something explodes, it's going to blow open at the weakest point which was the door, which was triple-latched," McGee said.
McGee said the smoker was larger and better constructed than most store-bought models.
"It was about 4 feet tall and about 3 feet wide and built really solid, including the door. Someone really put a lot of thought into building this thing," McGee said. "We were told that they had been using it for the past three years without any problems."
HMMMMMM.......now that the Turkey is smoked they shouldn't have any more problems.