"You think Clarkson, you think Bluebird. Harlan started Bluebird. His loss is a great one for our community" - Clarkson High School student, Kaitlin Reick
A noted horticulturist who founded a nationally known nursery in eastern Nebraska has died after an explosion at his home in Clarkson.
Officials say 76-year-old Harlan Hamernik was pronounced dead a little before 11 p.m. Monday at a Lincoln hospital. The explosion and fire were reported around 8:15 p.m. Monday.
"It was hectic. We had mutual aid, people flying all over the place. It was quite a time to have to spend trying to fight the fire and always wondering how he was doing," said Joe Toman, Clarkson Volunteer Firefighter.
Colfax County Attorney Denise Kracl says Hamernik suffered severe burns. She said Tuesday that there won't be an autopsy. No injuries to anyone else have been reported.
"At the present time, we don't suspect any sort of illegal activity or any sort of foul play," Kracl said.
Hamernik and his wife founded Bluebird Nursery in 1958. He also served as mayor of Clarkson and on the village board.
"He's one of the main people of Clarkson. You think Clarkson, you think Bluebird. Harlan started Bluebird. His loss is a great one for our community," said Kaitlin Reick, a Clarkson High School student.