VIRGINIA BEACH - A father of two has died from injuries sustained when propane tanks in his minivan exploded Wednesday.
Investigators say the van burst into flames around noon at Matthew S. Olive's home in the 3200 block of Colechester Road.
'Neighbors called 911 and some of them tried to help the victim and put out the fire,' Battalion Chief Tim Riley told WVEC.com.
'We pulled the hoses out and got fire extinguishers and got him away from the van,' explained neighbor Brian Schlegel. 'Because as much flames as it was engulfed in, we got him away from the van. We did what we could to get him out because his clothes and everything was on fire,' he said.
'We heard 4 to 5 explosions, and they weren't small,' Travis Tiburzi told 13News. 'The flames were, literally, 3 times higher than the van, so the amount of heat coming off was, 15 feet away, and you could almost start to singe your own hair.'
'I ran up to him, I said, 'Matt, what happened?'' recalled Schlegel. 'He just looked up. He said, 'I just lit a cigarette,' you know, 'I lit a cigarette. I had gas in the back.''
Investigators believe that may have led to the explosion.
The fire that came as a result of the explosion burned Oliver on more than 80 percent of his body.
Olive has a 4-year-old boy and a 7-year-old boy. The older son turns 8 in just a couple of days.
'Chat out in the front yard. He's kind of an outdoorsy guy. He spends more time outside, and we yell over the fence to each other. You know, he's just a pretty easy-going guy, you know, pretty laid back,' neighbor Jerry Killmeyer said. 'Ican't believe this happened to him.'
'Seeing some of the things that you see while it's happening, and experiencing the smell, the everything that's engulfed in the whole, it's something that's gonna be with me for awhile,' Tiburzi stated.
Riley warns against keep propane in vehicles because heat causes the gas to expand.
Learn more about propane tanks and safety atPropane 101.