Family: Explosion victim was a hero - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Family: Explosion victim was a hero

Maurice Thomas Maurice Thomas

A man who died in an explosion and fire Monday night is being called a hero by his family.

Family members of Maurice Thomas say he lost his life trying to save Harry Drayton, who was stuck in the car shop on Cohen Road in Jasper County.  

"He was my world. He was my baby boy. Right now it's hard to say anything because I lost my baby boy," said Willie Thomas Sr., Maurice Thomas' father.

Rodney Farrell, the owner of the car shop, says his drill is what started the fire that caused two propane tanks to explode. He was working on a truck when the drill overheated.

"I hit the gas tank, and the drill I had in my hand caught on fire," said Ferrell. "I threw the drill down, and the fire came from underneath the truck and it was burning."

Ferrell says the fire spread in a matter of minutes, and the entire building went up in flames.

"It was just black smoke rolling. I have never seen fire do that before."

Now, the only thing left of the 30-year-old business is burned cars, tools, and bricks. And the memories of the two men who lost their lives when the building burned down.

Willie Thomas Sr. says this is the worst thing he's ever had to go through, but he's proud of his son's actions.

"He did a good deed to be a hero to save somebody else and lost his life," said Willie Thomas Sr. "Most people won't do what he did."

Maurice's brother is also proud, but devastate he didn't get to say goodbye to his brother.

"Me and my brother had a really close relationship," said Willie Thomas Jr. "Basically, what I'm feeling right now is pain, heartache, hurt, sadness, and anger."

Both bodies are at the medical examiner's office for autopsy. The coroner said it could take up to a week before the results are released.

Authorities are still investigating the fire. 

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