This is a developing story.
A 49-year-old Red Bank man committed suicide and burned down the home he was living in just after midnight on Friday, according to Red Bank police.
Chief Tim Christol said that after a review of all available evidence, the case is being treated as a suicide and arson. It appears Darrel Chapman, 49, started the fire and then committed suicide while the fire was burning, Christol said.
Chapman was renting a basement apartment in the home of Larry and Judy Bullington, who woke to find their home in flames around 12:30 a.m. Both escaped unharmed, but the home on Bitsy Lane was completely destroyed.
An entire back corner of the brick house collapsed. Charred bricks sat on top of blackened furniture; sooty rafters fell into what was left of the basement. Water from rain and firehoses still dripped from the structure Friday morning, and the smell of burning wood filled the air.
A pickup truck parked in the back driveway was damaged by the heat, its bumper and tires melted into the pavement.
"The fact that the family upstairs got out is a huge relief as far as no one else getting hurt," Christol said.
The man's body was discovered after firefighters extinguished the blaze, said Amy Maxwell, spokeswoman for Hamilton County Emergency Services.
Neighbor Jerri Penley woke abruptly just after midnightFriday with the strange feeling that something was wrong. She heard two muffled, strong explosions and realized her bedroom was much too bright. She jumped up and peered out her window — and saw fire.
"Flames leaping out, just huge," she said.
Flames licked up the walls from the basement. Penley picked up the phone to call 911, but the phone lines were down.
She ran to her daughter, who called for help with her cellphone while they got out of the house with Penley's grandchildren and moved to safety.
Firefighters knew Chapman was likely inside the house soon after they arrived on scene, Penley said, but they did not go into the house to search for the man.
"It went up so fast," Penley said. "They couldn't have gone in. There was no way."
The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation. The blaze was concentrated in the back of the house and the basement.
A GoFundMe account has been created to raise money to help the Bullington family with expenses, and they are also receiving aid from the American Red Cross.
Stay with the Times Free Press as more information becomes available. Updated at 3:50 p.m.