EVANSVILLE — After months of investigation, the Indiana State Fire Marshal has ruled that a house explosion that killed three people in Evansville was accidental.
The explosion happened on August 10 in the 1000 block of North Weinbach Avenue. The explosion left debris over a 100 mile radius and also damaged 39 homes, leaving 11 uninhabitable.
"It's been almost three months since Evansville was shaken by this devastating event," Evansville Fire Department Division Chief Mike Larson said.
Investigators found a leaking gas line in the basement of the home that was determined to be the epicenter. The line was uncapped and the valve was open.
"Meter data taken after the incident showed a sharp increase in gas usage beginning two days before the blast," officials said in a news release. "However, there is no indication of foul play."
The Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office said that a married couple who lived at the center of the Wednesday explosion in Evansville, 43-year-old Charles Hite and 37-year-old Martina Hite, both died of blunt force trauma to their chests.
29-year-old neighbor Jessica Teague died of compression asphyxia.
Investigators could not determine the source of ignition in the home nor how the occupants didn't know the gas was accumulating in the home. Investigators found that the gas lines were working properly.
"We believe that the answer that has been come up with [by authorities] would be the answer that anybody that would show up to that event would come up with. We're very confident in that," Larson said. "I would hope that due to all the people's lives that were affected in that area, this would help them bring it to closure. The investigation is complete, these are the findings and hopefully it will help everybody be able to move forward from this point."
The Evansville Police Department and the federal bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms also contributed to the investigation.
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