Authorities say southwest Ohio blast 'suspicious'


DAYTON, Ohio — A natural gas explosion that leveled a vacant home and damaged 48 nearby structures in southwest Ohio is considered suspicious, authorities said.

Dayton Assistant Fire Chief Michael Caudill said investigators aren’t sure what caused the gas to ignite. One possible explanation is that inexperienced metal scrappers were taking pipes out of the home.

“If somebody is not sure what they’re doing, and they try and take out piping from the gas line, that would be where a gas line starts leaking,” he said.

But Caudill said that is only speculation at this point.

“We’ve got a lot of speculation. We don’t have any serious conclusion,” he said.

The blast Monday morning caused several minor injuries, shattered windows, threw debris and caused structural damage to some homes in the city’s west side, the Dayton Daily News reported today.

The state fire marshal’s office and federal authorities are assisting local authorities in the investigation, and the neighborhood has been bustling with insurance adjusters, inspectors and cable TV workers, as well as people assessing their losses.

“I feel blessed,” resident Fred Harris said. “My house can be repaired.”

Neighbor Barbara Felton said her house was a mess — “Dishes out of the cabinet, cracks in the wall, pictures knocked down, curtains down, blinds down, windows broken,” she said.

Neighbor Allen Cannon said he and another person smelled gas five to 10 minutes before the explosion.

“Boom!” he said of the blast. “I thought we were at war.”

A gas utility spokeswoman said there were no records of gas leaks or odors being reported previously from the home’s area.

Caudill said the city had not in memory experienced such extensive damage from a gas explosion.