Still no answers in deadly Indianapolis explosion
Residents and investigators are still trying to find out what caused an explosion at a house on the south side of Indianapolis.
While there have been dozens of investigators all over the neighborhood for two days and nights, neighbors still don't know what caused the home near them to explode in a ball of fire.
Once again investigators will comb through the debris today, as they have the past two days, searching for evidence and clues as to what would have caused such devastation from the powerful explosion.
The focus has been from the beginning on natural gas, although investigators will only say there is no official cause. And Citizens Gas indicates there was nothing leading up to the explosion to foretell any problems or leaks.
That makes the residents of Richmond Hill very uneasy.
For those who are back in their homes, it is still an unstable situation. "All night and all day we feel so fortunate, but I said I feel like a jerk that we were so fortunate, compared to what others neighbors experienced," said Helene Ray, who added that her kids have a hard time going to sleep.
"It went from a blue flash to a white, like, uh, mushroom cloud, maybe?" said another resident of Richmond Hill subdivision, describing the explosion.
The Saturday night blast killed two people and leveled several homes. What caused the explosion remains a mystery.
"We are not going to speculate the exact house, I mean, we have, you can see there are two houses gone and it is still under investigation," said Gary Coons, director of Indianapolis Homeland Security.
Coons will only say his agency is being helped by federal investigators. The National Transportation Safety Board has joined the investigation, because that agency has jurisdiction over the gas line.
That is exactly what Helene Ray does not want to hear.
With a couple of broken windows and a crooked sliding glass door, the damage to Ray's house is nothing like many of her neighbors.
John Shirley owned one of the homes leveled by the explosion. His ex-wife got the house in their divorce, and he suspects the furnace in his old house may have been faulty.
"If there was a problem with the furnace, then maybe I could have given some better advice," Shirley told Eyewitness News in a phone interview.
A fence has been ordered placed around the homes that received the most damage, there is no word from the investigating agency on when they plan to offer a glimpse into their investigation.
So another day today of sifting through the destruction. There is limited access to people from the outside mainly out of security and safety.
Eyewitness News is learning more Monday about what may have caused the deadly explosion over the weekend that left a couple dead and damaged or destroyed homes in the Richmond Hills subdivision.
The Associated Press reports the owner of the house that blew up says a faulty furnace may be to blame. Also, the NTSB has joined the search for the cause of the explosion.
However, at a news conference Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for Citizens Energy said the utility never received a call about a faulty furnace from the home in question.
Citizens also would not confirm any gas leak, saying it was too early to speculate and that the investigation was ongoing.
Code Enforcement representatives also spoke at Monday's news conference. They said that 29 structures are uninhabitable. Beginning Monday, their focus shifted to getting residents back into their homes either to claim their possessions or to settle back in, if the home is deemed habitable by structural engineers.
Adam Collins with Code Enforcement said the goal was to get insurance adjusters into the neighborhood to survey the damage for their estimates.
"As fast as the insurance companies can move, we'll be able to accommodate them," he said.
No gas leaks were found in the mains or gas line running to the house, according to Homeland Security Director Gary Coons. Now investigators are sifting through the charred debris of the home that exploded.
The mother and daughter who lived in the home were out of town last Saturday when the explosion occurred. They are back in Indianapolis and investigators will speak to them. One question investigators are certain to ask is if anyone was using the home in their absence.
The neighborhood is closed to outsiders. Residents are hoping to get back in to claim their possessions, but they have a lot of questions.
Mail service has been temporarily suspended to the neighborhood. Citizens Energy says all but 30 homes have had gas restored.
Numerous homes inside the disaster zone are so damaged they are in danger of collapsing.
Coons said Code Enforcement will determine which homes are safe to enter.
"We're still working with the community on that," said Coons. "We're trying to get them answers as quickly as we can on when they can get back."