Rebuilding and recovery will take time - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Rebuilding and recovery will take time

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INDIANAPOLIS -

Many of the neighbors who were forced to evacuate their homes after Saturday's explosion, were allowed back in Sunday to gather personal belongings.

Eyewitness News also got an up close look at the damage, during an escorted tour of the Richmond Hill neighborhood.

The horrific sight on the southside - that massive explosion and raging fire Saturday night - gave way to what resembled a war zone in the light of day.

"I've not seen anything with this type of destruction that happened so quickly," said Indianapolis Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.

On the ground in the Richmond Hill neighborhood, there is debris.

There is damage.

There are homes reduced to rubble.

The blast blew up two houses and killed two people.

Everywhere you look, cars are burned out and windows and garage doors, blown in.

The power of the explosion was immense.

"We really won't know the extent of all the damage until we get in here. Remember, this was felt miles away." Riggs said.

80 homes sustained damage from the blast.

City leaders estimate a $3.6 million total loss.

City engineers went door to door today, inspecting each property.

31 of the homes have major structural problems.

Families just can't live there and the timeline for rebuilding is expected to be long.

Investigators say the first priority is the impact zone and pinpointing a cause.

Arson investigators, ATF agents and Metro Police detectives are all searching the debris for clues.

"We have a very good idea where it started and it's pretty obvious when you see the site," said Deputy Fire Chief Kenny Bacon, at a Sunday afternoon news conference.

Police pointed out a spot, in the middle of a flattened home site, at the epicenter of the explosion.

But why the home exploded - is still unknown.

"We haven't ruled out anything and we haven't made any determinations," city leaders said.

Citizens Energy has forensic scientists working to find answers.

Natural gas lines have gotten attention.

Dan Considine, spokesperson for Citizens, says after checking dispatch records for the past few days, no neighbors reported a natural gas smell before the blast.

No leaks were found afterward either, in a detection survey conducted Sunday.

"Most of the time when there's a gas leak, people can smell it," Considine explained.

Investigators will also study blast patterns on the ground and from aerial photos.

"They'll work each one of the houses and just make a ring and move outward, piece by piece," explained Metro Police Lieutenant Christian Nielsen.

It's a process that could take weeks.

Rebuilding and recovery, will likely take even longer.

To preserve the scene for investigators and keep people safe from dangerous debris, IMPD instituted a voluntary curfew in the neighborhood from 10pm to 6am.

They're also positioning officers in the area for patrols, for the foreseeable future.

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