Former firefighter tragically dies after lawn mower explodes

A South Jersey fire company is mourning the loss of one of their own, a retired firefighter killed in a freak accident while he mowed his yard.

Authorities say the 79-year-old man died when the lawn mower he was riding burst into flames at around 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

New Jersey State Police bomb and arson units responded after a passerby noticed the fire. Tragically, the victim died at the scene.

The Springfield Township Fire Chief says the victim had retired years ago but kept involved with the company. He also worked in the township's office of emergency management and trained new firemen at the county fire school.

"It's sad," said Chief Brian Kokotajlo. "It's a wakeup call. Every day is precious."

State police are looking into why and how the mower caught on fire.