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Published: Wednesday, 6/16/2004

Probe cites human error in fatal Wood County blast

SCOTCH RIDGE, Ohio - The home explosion that killed a 69-year-old handyman last month might have been caused by the man who was installing a water heater for a neighbor, according to a state fire marshal's investigator.

Dale E. Starkey died because he did not turn off the propane when he disconnected a line from the water heater, investigator Keith Loreno said. The explosion appeared to happen when Mr. Starkey lit a torch to connect copper pipe, Mr. Loreno said.

He found no evidence of criminal activity or of mechanical problems in the house that would have caused the explosion.

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