Cause sought for Indiana house explosion that killed 3

Aug 11, 2022, 7:49 AM | Updated: Aug 12, 2022, 6:39 am

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Authorities worked Thursday to determine the cause of a house explosion in a southern Indiana neighborhood that killed three people and left another person hospitalized.

The explosion Wednesday afternoon in Evansville damaged 39 homes. Crews on Thursday completed a secondary search of buildings that were left unstable by the explosion and no more victims were found, Fire Chief Mike Connelly told reporters.

“It’s a huge relief, for everybody,” the chief said of the results of the secondary search.

Eleven of the damaged homes were uninhabitable and will have to be demolished, Connelly said, and finding a cause is expected to be a “very tedious process — and lengthy.”

The Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office identified the victims as a married couple, 43-year-old Charles Hite and 37-year-old Martina Hite, and 29-year-old neighbor Jessica Teague. The cause and manner of their deaths have not yet been determined, the office said.

Suzanne Dabkowski, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, spokeswoman, said the agency can’t speak to any possible causes of the explosion. Dabkowski said the ATF has explosive specialists and firearms investigators on-site in Evansville who were helping with the investigation.

The ATF’s involvement does not mean there is an intentional or illegal act behind them, she added. Typically, the agency gets involved in local cases when its help is requested or if there is some federal connection, Dabkowski said.

“When we come to these types of events we’ve either been asked in by the local fire officials or the state fire marshal for our agents who have had additional training,” she said. “We can be extra hands to help them. Most places aren’t used to seeing a scene of this size.”

Evansville authorities have declined to speculate whether natural gas or another issue is responsible for the explosion.

Evansville is along Indiana’s border with Kentucky. The blast left debris that included wooden boards, window glass and insulation strewn over a 100-foot (30-meter) radius.

CenterPoint Energy, the local gas utility, was last called to the home in January 2018, according to Connelly.

The utility said it was working with fire officials and other agencies as the investigation continues.

It was the second house explosion in the area in just over five years. A June 27, 2017, explosion killed two people and injured three others.

Wednesday’s explosion also brought to mind a massive blast in 2012 that destroyed or damaged more than 80 homes in Indianapolis and killed two people. A man was convicted of tampering with a natural gas line at his then-girlfriend’s home in an attempt to commit insurance fraud.

According the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s public database on accident reports involving gas distribution systems, at least 40 such accidents have caused 59 fatalities since 2010 on private property, including homes.

The highest death count in a single accident during that time was in 2014, when an explosion and fire destroyed two buildings in New York City’s Harlem, according to the agency’s records. Eight people died and 48 more were injured. The National Transportation Safety Board later attributed the explosion to a defective joint that allowed natural gas to leak into the building, worsened by a sewer line breach that caused the gas line to sag.

The public database reviewed by The Associated Press on Thursday did not include the 2017 explosion in Evansville that killed two people. Messages for agency representatives seeking information about why that explosion was not included were not immediately returned.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Colorado River settlement center of new Navajo Nation push...

Associated Press

Tribes say their future is at stake as they push for Congress to consider Colorado River settlement

Navajo officials are celebrating the signing of legislation outlining a proposed Colorado River settlement that would ensure water rights.

4 days ago

Arizona doctors California abortions...

Associated Press

Arizona doctors can come to California to perform abortions under new law signed by Gov. Newsom

Arizona doctors can temporarily come to California to perform abortions for their patients under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

5 days ago

Father convicted of first-degree murder in northern Arizona...

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

A northern Arizona father was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son.

5 days ago

Former President Donald Trump sits in a courtroom next to his lawyer Todd Blanche before the start ...

Associated Press

Trump hush money trial enters new phase after defense rests without testimony from former president

Donald Trump's hush money trial is now closer to the moment when the jury will begin deciding the former president's fate.

7 days ago

UoA student convicted of first-degree murder after killing professor...

Associated Press

Former Arizona grad student convicted of first-degree murder in 2022 shooting of professor

A former University of Arizona grad student was convicted of first-degree murder after fatally shooting a professor on campus two years ago.

7 days ago

Rudy Giuliani bankruptcy filing defamation lawsuit...

Associated Press

Ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona’s Kelli Ward plead not guilty in fake elector case

Giuliani appeared remotely for the arraignment that was held in a Phoenix courtroom. His trial will take place in October.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Cause sought for Indiana house explosion that killed 3