Deadly Indiana blast puzzles officials and residents…(Methane?)

Monday, November 12, 2012
By Paul Martin
November 12, 2012

INDIANA – With no hint of a problem in advance, in particular no tell-tale smell of a gas leak, authorities and residents in a southern Indianapolis neighborhood are trying to make sense of an enormous blast that obliterated two homes and made dozens more uninhabitable. Fire officials expressed amazement that only two people died in the late Saturday explosion so powerful that the devastation spread for blocks from its epicenter. Hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate their Richmond Hill homes, some never to return. Windows and doors were blown in. The blast rocked several houses entirely from their foundations and was so loud it awoke people three miles away. A fire burned for hours, engulfing dozens of homes. Early Monday, Indianapolis public safety director Troy Riggs said forensic investigators were talking with utility companies and others as they tried to determine the cause. “We need to make sure that we get some of the forensics back and that we follow where the evidence takes us,” Riggs told WISH-TV. U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, who represents the area, has said he had been told a bomb or meth lab explosion had been ruled out. Deputy Fire Chief Kenny Bacon said investigators hadn’t ruled out any possible causes. Citizens Energy had received no calls from people in the area smelling the rotten eggs of a chemical added to natural gas, which is odorless, utility spokesman Dan Considine said. “Most of the time when there’s a gas leak, people smell it,” he said. “But not always.” Carson said the National Transportation Safety Board and the federal Department of Transportation, which have oversight over pipelines, were sending investigators. Riggs said police officers and investigators would continue to search and secure the neighborhood on Monday. “It could take some time. We’ve asked people to be patient,” Riggs told WRTV. Dan Able, a 58-year-old state employee who lives across the street from the flattened homes, was puzzled by the blast. “I’m wondering about all the possibilities it could be,” he said. Authorities set up relief operations at a school and church to shelter those displaced in the blast. Some moved in with friends and relatives. Others found hotel rooms. Alex Pflanzer was sound asleep when the explosion blew out his windows and his wife started to scream. “I didn’t know what was going on,” Pflanzer said. “I thought someone was breaking in the house, because the alarm was going off.” –ABC News

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