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NTSB: No evidence of gas-line leak in Ind. home blast

6:47 PM, Nov 13, 2012   |    comments
Matt Kryger, AP Citizens Energy workers continue their investigation Monday, at the site of an explosion at a house in Indianapolis.
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by By Ryan Sabalow, The Indianapolis Star

INDIANAPOLIS -- While declining to offer a suspected cause of the massive explosion that rocked a southeast home Saturday, killing two people and damaging dozens of other houses, federal pipeline investigators said they haven't found any evidence of a gas-line leak that would have warranted them staying longer at the scene of the blast.

Keith Holloway, a National Transportation Safety Board spokesman, deferred inquiries to local authorities about the blast's cause. But he said, typically, the NTSB would stay and investigate a large explosion if leaks were found in any of the lines or valves leading up to a blast site.

On Monday, gas company officials said they tested the mains in the neighborhood and didn't find any leaks. Test results were pending for the line that supplied the exploded home.

Fire officials said Tuesday they weren't going to release any information about what they suspect caused the explosion.

Though the NTSB is known primarily for its role in investigating airplane or massive highway or railway crashes, the agency also handles pipeline-related accidents.

Holloway said pipelines are considered modes of transportation since they move fuel from place to place.

The NTSB had a lead role in investigating the San Bruno pipeline explosion of 2010 that killed eight people near San Francisco.

The bodies of John "Dion" Longworth, 34, and his wife, Jennifer, 36, were pulled from the wreckage of their home after the explosion. Jennifer was a teacher at Southwest Elementary School in Greenwood, Ind. The coroner has yet to officially identify the bodies, but a police report confirmed the names Monday.

Earlier Tuesday, power was being restored inside the Richmond Hill subdivision after building officials completed inspecting homes for damage. About 80 houses were damaged in the blast. Many can be repaired, but some must be torn down.

"We are transitioning from the response phase to the recovery phase," Indianapolis Fire Department spokeswoman Rita Burris said Tuesday morning in a statement.

Burris said the subdivision is now deemed safe enough for emergency personnel to begin escorting in the residents who were forced to flee Saturday night.

She said building inspectors and fire officials have identified which homes are safe to enter so residents can go inside and retrieve essential items, personal-care products and medications.

Meanwhile, everyone else -- from members of the media to curious onlookers -- are not being allowed inside the subdivision.

Copyright 2012 The Indianapolis Star

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