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Ohio house explosion that killed woman, critically injured man ruled accidental

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ORWELL, Ohio — A house explosion that killed a northeast Ohio woman and critically injured her boyfriend has been ruled accidental.

The state fire marshal's office says the house in the village of Orwell, roughly 45 miles east of Cleveland, was filled with natural gas that spread through the plumbing after a toilet continuously ran and its water well became empty.

The highway patrol says the couple had been smelling gas for weeks, and that the house exploded Wednesday when resident James Ortiz lit a cigarette.

The blast gave Ortiz second- and third-degree burns and killed his girlfriend, 27-year-old Malerie Nick of Fairport Harbor.

Residents as far as 5 miles away reported hearing the explosion.

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