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Families left picking up the pieces following house explosion on Indy's west side

'The house can always be rebuilt, but lives you can’t rebuild. You have one chance at it and one chance only.'
House Explosion on N Rybolt
Posted at 5:49 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-26 18:49:03-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Two families are picking up the pieces on the west side of Indianapolis after an explosion and fire decimated a home Friday morning.

First responders went to the home located in the 500 block of North Rybolt Avenue around 8:15 a.m. with reports of a working house fire with an explosion and injuries.

Fire officials with the Wayne Township Fire Department reported it was likely the construction of an in-ground fire pit above a natural gas service line caused the explosion and fire.

Five people were injured, and as of Tuesday, two remain in the hospital, including Joshua Long and David and Penny Jo Hermsen’s mother, Penny, who lived in the home.

“We’re just glad she made it out because honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without my mom,” David said.

Penny suffered burns among other injuries.

“As families, we’re trying to stay with each other,” Jay McCreery said. His daughter, Arianna, 22, was also injured in the explosion. She remains in the ICU.

Arianna is the girlfriend of Penny’s youngest son. Arianna’s parents said she was on the couch when it happened.

“The house can always be rebuilt, but lives you can’t rebuild. You have one chance at it and one chance only,” McCreery said.

Several pets died in the fire. The family has no homeowners insurance. Penny, her husband, and one of her sons are without a home and many of their belongings.

For now, though, Penny’s family said it is one day at a time. They extend their gratitude to the men and women who responded to the call on Friday morning.

Click on the links to help Penny and Arianna recover.