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Investigators believe natural gas leak caused explosion, fire at south side car wash

Posted at 10:32 PM, Apr 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-25 11:43:15-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Investigators believe an explosion and fire Friday night that damaged a car wash on the south side of Indianapolis was caused by a natural gas leak.

According to information from the Indianapolis Fire Department, 15 IFD units and one Greenwood Fire Department unit were dispatched to Brad's Car Wash, located in the 8100 block of South Shelby Street, near Stop 11 and U.S. 31., at 9:13 p.m. following multiple calls reporting a possible explosion.

Arriving firefighters were greeted by heavy smoke and flames, and the fire was under control at 9:52 p.m. There were no injuries.

Investigators found debris from the explosion up to 150 yards away from the car wash in all directions, while Michael's and Hobby Lobby, which are located in a strip mall north of the car wash, suffered light damage.

The IFD/IMPD Fire Investigations Section estimated the dollar loss to be $3.5 million. Brad's Car Wash employees reported to investigators they noticed a rotten egg smell in the building over the previous few days that initially dissipated, but then returned Friday.

A news release from IFD said the employees did not investigate the source of the odor.

The epicenter of the explosion was in the plenum above the main office and break room, according to IFD. The explosion lifted the roof structure several feet, displaced interior walls and blew out several exterior windows.

Investigators have not determined source of the natural gas leak or what caused it to ignite, and it has been classified as an undetermined fire.

Citizens Energy believes the leak came from within the building and that there is no further risk to the public or surrounding structures, according to the news release.

Brad's Car Wash, which remained open after it was listed as an essential business, closed for the day around 6:30 p.m. It has been at that location on the south side for about nine years.