Hastings house explosion victim identified; preliminary investigation shows explosion was an accident
HASTINGS, Neb. – The person killed in the Sunday morning house explosion in Hastings has been identified as 52-year-old Hastings man.
On Sunday morning, Dec. 17, 2023, at approximately 3:15 a.m., the Hastings Police Department and Hastings Fire and Rescue were called to 618 S. Boston Avenue in reference to a house explosion.
Through investigation, it was determined that the initial explosion, as well as the multiple secondary explosions, were likely due to explosive/destructive devices.
The explosions caused the collapse of the residence, causing a majority of the first floor to fall into the basement of the home. Multiple homemade destructive devices were located within the debris and on the property.
A deceased, unidentified person, was also located within the debris. The deceased person located within the home was the resident, 52-year-old, Jeffery Ponder.
Due to the extent of damage to the residence, the Hastings Street Department and Ben Engel Construction also assisted in removal of debris with heavy machinery so all areas could be safely searched.
Police say all destructive devices and explosive materials were disposed of safely at an alternative, undisclosed, location and there is no threat to the area.
Authorities say this is an ongoing criminal investigation, and preliminarily determined Ponder was illegally constructing and storing his own destructive devices within his property.
At this time, there is no indication that Ponder had intentions to use these destructive devices as weapons against other persons or property and the explosion is believed to be accidental.