November 13, 2012 in Nation/World

Natural gas may have caused blast

Associated Press
 

INDIANAPOLIS – The search for what caused a massive, deadly explosion that rocked an Indianapolis neighborhood turned to natural gas Monday, with officials checking gas lines and a homeowner saying a problem furnace could be to blame.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators to check gas main and other lines serving the neighborhood where two people were killed and seven injured in the weekend blast. Local gas supplier Citizens Energy said it also was checking gas lines and a meter at the home that exploded.

But officials cautioned that it was too soon to rule out other causes, saying only that they do not believe a meth lab was to blame for the explosion that obliterated two homes and severely damaged dozens of others.

The owner of one of the homes that was destroyed said there was a problem with the furnace in the last few weeks.

John Shirley, 50, of Noblesville, said he received a text message recently from his daughter, who complained that the furnace in the home where she lived with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend had broken. The malfunction had forced them to stay in a hotel, the girl said.

When Shirley asked if the furnace had been fixed, his daughter said yes. Scott Davis, president and principal engineer of GexCon US, an explosion investigation firm, questioned whether a furnace could cause the type of damage seen in the neighborhood.

The blast flattened the house Shirley co-owns with his ex-wife and one next door that belonged to second-grade teacher Jennifer Longworth and her husband, John. Indianapolis police said Monday the bodies of the pair were found in the basement of their home.

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