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Cause announced for Indiana home explosion that killed 3 people


(EVANSVILLE, Ind.) — A deadly home explosion in southern Indiana in August has been ruled accidental, with no signs of foul play, authorities said Wednesday.

Three people died after a house exploded in Evansville on Aug. 10. Two of the victims were in the home where the blast occurred, while the third was not, authorities said.

Investigators discovered a leaking gas line in the basement of the home, according to Indiana State Fire Marshal Steve Jones, who conducted a joint investigation with the Evansville Fire Department.

The line was uncapped and the valve was in the open position, according to the fire marshal, who said he has ruled the cause of the explosion to be accidental.

“Meter data taken after the incident showed a sharp increase in gas usage beginning two days before the blast,” Jones said in a press release. “No additional evidence was found to determine how the valve was opened; however, there is no indication of foul play.”

The source of ignition could not be determined, though electrical devices and other appliances in the home could have served as an ignition source, the fire marshal noted.

Following the blast, the gas lines between the main and meter were determined to be working properly, Jones said.

Testing also confirmed that mercaptan, a foul-smelling additive, was present in the natural gas line leading to the home.

“It could not be determined how the occupants were unaware of the gas accumulating in the home,” the fire marshal said.

The home where the explosion occurred was destroyed and nearly a dozen other homes were uninhabitable after the blast, authorities said.

The victims were identified by the coroner’s office as Charles Hite, 43, and Martina Hite, 37, who both lived in the home, and their next-door neighbor, 29-year-old Jessica Teague.

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