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IDHS says gas line may have been tampered with prior to fatal Owen Co. home explosion

Posted at 8:33 PM, Nov 16, 2016

SPENCER, Ind. -- Indiana Department of Homeland Security investigators have concluded their examination of a fatal Owen County home explosion, saying they believe a gas line may have been tampered with.

The explosion happened around 12:30 p.m. near State Road 46 and County Line Road in Owen County, just east of Spencer, Indiana.

"I just heard a huge explosion," neighbor Judy Ochs said. "There was a huge plume of smoke and flames. The house was totally gone."

Another neighbor said the explosion was so strong that their whole house shook.

Owen County dispatchers originally said there were no injuries reported in the explosion of the single story home, but later said a man had been killed in the blast. His identity has not been released.

Investigators with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the State Fire Marshal were called to assist the Owen County Sheriff's Department, The Owen Valley Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to determine the cause of the explosion.

Fire crews worked long past sunset sifting through the debris, looking for answers.

Neighbors say the area has been dry and if the wind had picked up, the damage could have been much worse.

"I just have a lot of appreciation for what they've done in the neighborhood here and you know they kind of saved us too," said Ochs.

Investigators believe this is an isolated incident and they do not believe there is any threat to public safety. 

On Thursday afternoon, IDHS announced it had closed its investigation into the explosion. The agency ruled the cause of the blast could not be conclusively determined due to extensive damage caused by the explosion -- but investigators believe a gas line may have been tampered with.

The victim's name will not be released until next-of-kin have been notified.