Demolition continues at Richmond Hill

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The demolition and clean-up continues in the Richmond Hill subdivision after the Nov. 10th explosion.

Work began on Fieldfare Way, the epicenter of the blast that rocked the neighborhood and caused so much devastation.

The Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement says plans are moving ahead to tear down six houses this week. Three homes came down Tuesday and crews were completing the demolition process for those homes Wednesday.

One of the demolished homes belonged to Abby Jackson, who came back Wednesday to claim a brick from the home she loved.

"I just wanted to take a couple of things that my kids could maybe sign and then that'll be it," she said.

Jackson says she has nine years of wonderful memories inside the home. Watching it being torn down has been both painful and therapeutic.

"It's been hard. It's been closure but it's still hard. But every day, just moving on," she said.

Jackson was home the night of the explosion but was able to get herself and her four children out safely. For that, she feels blessed.

"I am more than thankful. I was protected by Jesus Christ that night," said Jackson.

Families are salvaging what they can as they try to maintain a sense of normalcy. Residents have put up Christmas decorations on homes slated for demolition as well as homes that will be repaired.

For the Jacksons, the holidays will be different, but they'll all be together.

"Trying to understand it as an adult; but then trying to explain it to your kids and how different it's gonna be. So my four-year-old continues to say, though, that he doesn't necessarily need any other toys; he didn't know if the policeman could bring his toys back from his house," she said.

The Christmas season is about faith and hope, and that's something the Jackson family has taken to heart now more than ever.

Contractors could be seen Wednesday morning going into the homes to retrieve homeowners' belongings.

One homeowner in that first group has asked for an extension so the insurance company has time to do its own inspection.

Wrecking permits are on record for the additional homes, and they are ready to be cleared. A total of 33 homes will come down by the end of the year.

Code Enforcement officials have a hearing set for Dec. 20 to address homeowner questions. Homeowners will be able to contest demolition orders if they wish.

Investigation update

Meantime, although investigators agree the explosion was no accident, they'll only say investigation is ongoing. The blast killed next-door neighbors Dion and Jennifer Longworth.

The attorney for the homeowners of the house that exploded say his clients are getting a bad rap.

"Accident or build-up and that is all they know. It was an explosion and wanting and wishing it was somebody's fault," Randall Cable said.

Cable also said his clients have cooperated with questioning a total of four times, both together and individually, by a combination of investigators from the ATF, IFD, arson and police. He says reports of furniture moved from the property before the blast was actually furniture dropped there to be pressure washed.

The attorney said Monserrate Shirley, the homeowner, has not returned to work since the explosion, saying she is too emotionally distraught and fears she is possibly suicidal. Cable told Eyewitness News police are supposed to surrender Shirley's burned residence this week to her and the insurance company.

Cable also confirmed that the insurance company has informed Mark Leonard, Shirley's boyfriend, he has no coverage, because he is not officially listed in the policy.