Salem Radio Network News Monday, October 3, 2022

U.S.

Cause sought for Indiana house explosion that killed 3

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Authorities worked Thursday to determine the cause of a house explosion in a southern Indiana neighborhood that killed three people and left another person hospitalized.

The explosion Wednesday afternoon in Evansville damaged 39 homes. Crews on Thursday completed a secondary search of buildings that were left unstable by the explosion and no more victims were found, Fire Chief Mike Connelly told reporters.

“It’s a huge relief, for everybody,” the chief said of the results of the secondary search.

Eleven of the damaged homes were uninhabitable and will have to be demolished, Connelly said, and finding a cause is expected to be a “very tedious process — and lengthy.”

Names of the dead have not yet been released. Injuries to the fourth victim weren’t considered life-threatening, Connelly said.

Suzanne Dabkowski, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, spokeswoman, said the agency can’t speak to any possible causes of the explosion. Dabkowski said the ATF has explosive specialists and firearms investigators on-site in Evansville who were helping with the investigation.

The ATF’s involvement does not mean there is an intentional or illegal act behind them, she added. Typically, the agency gets involved in local cases when its help is requested or if there is some federal connection, Dabkowski said.

“When we come to these types of events we’ve either been asked in by the local fire officials or the state fire marshal for our agents who have had additional training,” she said. “We can be extra hands to help them. Most places aren’t used to seeing a scene of this size.”

Evansville is along Indiana’s border with Kentucky. The blast left debris that included wooden boards, window glass and insulation strewn over a 100-foot (30-meter) radius.

CenterPoint Energy, the local gas utility, was last called to the home in January 2018, according to Connelly.

The utility said it was working with fire officials and other agencies as the investigation continues.

It was the second house explosion in the area in just over five years. A June 27, 2017, explosion killed two people and injured three others.

Wednesday’s explosion also brought to mind a massive blast in 2012 that destroyed or damaged more than 80 homes in Indianapolis and killed two people. A man was convicted of tampering with a natural gas line at his then-girlfriend’s home in an attempt to commit insurance fraud.

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