Clean-up, investigation continue after Indianapolis explosion

Published: .
Updated: .

Investigators looking into the cause of Saturday's explosion that killed two people are back at the Richmond Hill neighborhood Thursday collecting debris. They hope to finish processing the scene by the end of the week.

The coroner's office has positively identified the victims of the explosion as Dion and Jennifer Longworth.

Thursday afternoon, a home furnace and other appliances were set aside by local and federal investigators for additional examination and testing. Investigators suspect leaking gas caused the horrendous explosion. They are trying to find its source and determine if the leak was accidental or intentional.

About 30 investigators from the Indianapolis Fire Department, Indianapolis Metro Police Department at the ATF are involved in the effort.

Eyewitness News has learned that 32 homes sustained major structural damage by the blast, up from Wednesday. One home's status was changed from green to yellow and another from white to yellow.

Of those 32 homes, 17 have been secured. One has been braced and another five have submitted bracing plans. Two of those plans have been approved. Three properties on Fieldfare Way were cleared for utility reconnection.

Residents impacted by the explosion can get briefed on the investigation Thursday night at a community meeting. It's at 6:00 pm at the Southport Presbyterian Church. It is open to Richmond Hill residents only.

City officials stressed that they're conducting the investigation in the standard way they normally would look into any incident involving an unknown cause or death.

The IFD Collapse Rescue Team has completed shoring unstable homes, and IFD says it's completed its partnership with the Department of Code Enforcement escorting residents into their homes to claim their personal belongings. As of Wednesday, they had conducted 176 property escorts, and 33 homeowners removed personal items. There were 30 visits from insurance agents, ten structural engineer visits and seven non-affected homes were inspected at homeowners' requests.

IMPD continues to secure the perimeter around Richmond Hill subdivision around the clock, and everyone must show identification before they enter. Contractors and insurance agents must get new credentials every day after showing their identification.

Investigators hope to complete their work in a day or two, clearing the way for demolition and repair crews.

"It would be nice to have my neighborhood back," said homeowner Robert Stevenson.

Stevenson's home received only minor damage. His wife has trouble sleeping. There is no mail and almost constant noise.

"When something happens like this, there are jobs people have to do to get people under control. I just accept that," he said.

Some of the families who have salvaged carloads of personal items are back, hauling away all they can. The Department of Public Works has provided dumpsters for residents to use during the clean-up.

Remarkably, a neighborhood torn apart by tragedy is coming closer together.

"A lot of my neighbors, I didn't know. But I know them now. I met them at the church. I've seen some pulling together," Stevenson said.

IFD says no clean-up is planned at this time due to the large number of contractors and insurance agents in the neighborhood.