A Leonard man was killed in an explosion Thursday afternoon as he attempted to complete welding work on a fuel tank.


Leonard Police Chief Brian Meserole said the incident occurred sometime between 4:30-5 p.m. in the 300 block of East Cottonwood Street. Meserole said Robert Damesworth, whom he estimated to be in his late 60s, was welding a diesel fuel tank attached to the rear of his farm truck when the explosion occurred.


“As he was welding, I guess the vapors or the fuel that was inside the tank ignited and exploded, which caused some pretty severe injuries to him,” Meserole said. “I think he was pretty much deceased on impact.”


The police chief said family members in the house heard the explosion and requested paramedics upon discovering Damesworth. Paramedics attempted to resuscitate Damesworth but were unsuccessful.


“This gentleman was a retired fireman,” Meserole said. “I cannot believe he was welding on a fuel tank. Everybody there was completely sidelined by it.”


The Leonard Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene, but no structures were damaged or caught fire in the explosion. Meserole said investigators have determined the incident to be an accident and said no autopsy will be conducted and the investigation would soon be closed.