Citizens Energy: No evidence of gas leaks at explosion site
Citizens Energy Group says tests indicate there is no evidence of natural gas leaks from its underground facilities in the Richmond Hill subdivision.
The explosion killed husband and wife Dion and Jennifer Longworth, obliterated two homes and seriously damaged dozens of others late Saturday night.
Citizens says it conducted the following tests in cooperation with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission:
· Leak detection survey of the entire Richmond Hill subdivision.
· Pressure tests of the 2-inch diameter gas main and all underground service lines on Fieldfare Way.
· Functional test of the gas meter at the home where the explosion is believed to have originated.
Citizens Energy says it will continue working with the Indianapolis Division of Homeland Security, the Indianapolis Fire Department and other agencies in the investigation.
The NTSB finished their investigation Tuesday. The agency said it did not find any evidence of gas leaks.
However, local investigators still believe natural gas was a factor, and their investigation will turn to appliances from the homes that were destroyed.
Indianapolis Department of Homeland Security Chief Gary Coons put out the following statement:
"Our investigators believe natural gas is involved. They are currently in the process of recovering the appliances from destroyed homes to help determine the cause. Based on the NTSB statement, our focus is on the houses and appliances. We wish to thank the investigators from the NTSB for offering support and assistance during this investigation. Although their participation has concluded, the investigation into the explosion in the Richmond Hills Subdivision continues to remain ongoing."
Three days after the explosion, investigators are still combing the blast site for clues, gathering evidence for analysis, interviewing residents and saying very little about what they're finding.
"Right now people have to be patient," said Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.
Riggs says the city needs time but will spare no expense determining a cause.
"If I could give them a time frame, I would. But it's just impossible at this point. The investigation involves so many moving parts. To give a time frame would not be in anyone's best interest," he said.
Investigators suspect a natural gas leak. So far, tests conducted by Citizens Energy found nothing wrong. More results are expected tomorrow.
Police are still restricting access to the neighborhood. Neighbors say they're getting used to it.
"It's still an active crime scene and there's still a lot of damage and we don't need anybody else hurt. It's a good thing they're here checking ID's," said homeowner Brent Maple.
Contractors have been busy boarding up damaged homes, making repairs and hauling away debris. Power has been restored to almost all of the homes, but dozens are uninhabitable.
Some residents are removing carloads of personal items, but the most severely damaged homes are still off limits. Officials aren't saying when residents will be allowed to come back and salvage something from the destruction.