New Hampshire House Explosion 'Not Likely' Accidental, Police Say

PHOTO: In this frame grab from television helicopter video, a home bursts into flames in Brentwood, N.H., May 12, 2014.
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The explosion that leveled a New Hampshire home after a cop was shot dead was probably not accidental, New Hampshire police said today

The blast occurred Monday in Brentwood after Officer Steve Arkell was called about a domestic dispute at the home of Michael Nolan and his father Walter Nolan. The officer was shot dead and when more police arrived, the home erupted in a fireball.

When asked about the cause of the explosion Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said it was not yet clear, but added "accidental is probably not likely."

Young said two bodies were found in the wreckage and are believed to be the bodies of Arkell, 48, and Michael Nolan, 47. The cause of Nolan's death was not yet determined and an autopsy was being conducted.

Arkell was sent to the address after a neighbor called police to report arguing between Nolan and his 86-year-old father. The officer arrived at 4:01 p.m. and was met by Walter Nolan. When Arkell entered the home, he was felled almost immediately by a volley of three shots, Young said.

Officer Derrek Franek was also dispatched to the scene, and when he arrived at 4:14 p.m. he encountered Walter Nolan outside. After questioning the elderly man and receiving no response, Franek cuffed Walter Nolan. Upon entering the home, Franek saw a wall sprayed with bullets and spotted Arkell on the floor on his back and believed the officer sustained a fatal injury, Young said.

Before he could go to Arkell, more gunfire erupted and Franek was driven through the home and out the back door and he escaped outside into nearby trees, Young said. Franek called for backup and other first responders soon surrounded the home.

“There appeared to be a number of rounds coming out of the house, some going through the roof and neighbors' homes also sustained shots,” Young said. No return shots were fired by police, she said.

Smoke began to come from the back of the home and then a fire was spotted at the front door. An explosion report came in at 5:49 p.m.

Walter Nolan, 86, was found handcuffed and was removed from the scene. He is not a suspect, Young said.

Neighbors had heard verbal altercations at the home before, but police had never been called to the house, Young said. Additionally, neither of the Nolans had any criminal or motor vehicle records that were found.

Arkell served in the police department for 15 years and his family asks for their privacy during this time. Arkell leaves behind two daughters and a wife, Heather.

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