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Investigators focus on pipes, appliances

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INDIANAPOLIS — Investigators believe natural gas caused the deadly explosion on the far southside and are now looking into whether the volatile gas had been released inside a house.

A gas leak outside the Richmond Hill homes that exploded late Saturday night has been ruled out after investigators checked lines and valves leading up to the blast site. Investigators are now trying to determine if an appliance, leak or valve inside a home was to blame for the blast that killed a Greenwood teacher and her husband and damaged dozens of homes, fire department spokeswoman Rita Burris said.

“At this time, it is not clear where exactly the source of the natural gas came from or what sparked the gas and caused it to explode,” Burris said in a statement. “(Test findings) simply offer investigators an opportunity to narrow their search by one layer.”

Investigators are focusing on the inside of the homes, Burris said. They don’t know whether a faulty appliance, valve or leak released the gas.

They’re investigating appliances and piping as they try to learn what ignited the blast that could be felt miles away and caused an estimated $3.6 million in damage to a subdivision just north of Smock Golf Course.

“No underground leaks or pressure issues found in the mains concludes the portion of the investigation as it relates to the potential large-scale issue of the natural gas originating outside the home,” Burris said in the statement.

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