Update: Investigators trying to solve home explosion - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Update: Investigators trying to solve home explosion


Investigators are still trying to determine what caused an explosion late Saturday night that killed an elementary school teacher and her husband in Indianapolis.

The man who owned the home says he thinks the blast was sparked by a bad furnace, but the gas company says they never received any complaints from the family. However, the gas company added a homeowner or contractor would not necessarily report when a furnace was repaired.

According to the homeowner, no one was in the home because the people living there were on a weekend vacation. 

The explosion did kill John Dion Longworth and his wife Jennifer, who lived next door. Jennifer was a second-grade teacher at an Indianapolis-area school.

After the fire was put out, over 80 homes were left damaged and as of Monday evening 29 of them are uninhabitable.

Investigators have ruled out a bomb or meth lab explosion, but they still have not determined the actual cause. There is not a clear time table as to how long it will take to determine what caused the explosion, but investigators are pretty confident they WILL be able to.

In the meantime, the families affected are left trying to get their homes and lives put back together.

"Beginning today, we've started focusing on people getting into their houses in a safe way to make sure we get their items valuables thing that they need. In addition people were able to get their insurance adjusters and agents," said Adam Collins, Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement. "We're starting to see some long term progress towards seeing improvements towards safety so these people can get in and get their things out for the repair and recovery process."

Collins estimated that over $3.6 million dollars worth of damage was caused by the explosion.

Local experts say that an explosion like this, caused by a furnace is very rare. Great Lakes Heating and Air say in a case like this the house would have to be filling with gas for days in order to explode like that and if the homeowners were home, they would have smelled it.

Experts say it is important to call your gas company immediately if you smell natural gas in your home and also call the professionals to make repairs. They also say you should have your furnace serviced every year, especially if you are planning to leave town for the winter.

"There's enough parts on a furnaces that need service, need cleaned. You don't drive your car across the country without taking it in and getting everything tuned up to make sure it is going to make it," James Olsen, Great Lakes Furnace Technician. "You don't run your furnace for an entire winter without having it checked up and maintenance before you start the winter, so you know you're not going to have any issues."

Olsen added newer furnaces have plenty of safety features, so if there is a leak, it will automatically turn off and then re-light itself, and that is when you would smell the gas.

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