Authorities Probe Cause of Indianapolis Explosion

Officials said it could take days, even weeks, to solve mystery.

November 11, 2012, 10:05 PM

Nov. 12, 2012 — -- Two days after a massive explosion in Indianapolis' Southside area left two people dead and dozens of homes destroyed, authorities continued their investigation today, and shaken residents banded together to help each other recover.

"It is still an investigation so we're very limited on the information we can give out," said Gary Coons, the chief of the Indianapolis division of the Department of Homeland Security. "We're looking at everything -- all causes, all possibilities. There's a lot of possibilities out there. ... There's a lot of possibilities that could trigger an explosion like this."

Authorities said they had launched a probe into the explosion, but cautioned they might not know the cause for days.

"You're talking days -- it could be weeks," Capt. Rita Burris, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Fire Department, told ABC News. "They're going over the scene and processing evidence. It's still in the investigation stage."

Sarah Holsapple, a spokeswoman for Citizens Energy, said that no gas leaks had been found and that other lines were being tested. She said, however, that she did not know how long the testing would take.

"It's too early to speculate if this could have been caused by a leak," Holsapple said.

Displaced residents gathered at a nearby Presbyterian church to meet with officials about when they could go retrieve any belongings from their houses. Most were told they would have only an hour to go in and take what they could.

Marcy Snow said she has been coming to the church since 1954. Her niece's home was destroyed in the blast.

"The main thing that I have seen repeatedly, manning this door, is people want to help," she said, standing in a room at the church full of food and supplies. "They're a very loving and giving community. They're proud to be here. They hate to see anybody hurting."

"They need time," she said, choking up.

The owner of a house in the blast area, who now lives elsewhere, said he believed a faulty furnace in the house caused the explosion, though Citizens Energy's Holsapple said the company had not gotten any calls about a faulty furnace.

"About a week and a half ago I got a text from my daughter that the furnace was out and they were going to spend the night at a hotel. If I were to suspect anything, that's where the problem was," said John Shirley, who is divorced and now lives in Noblesville, Ind. "Supposedly they got it fixed, but because of what happened I don't think they got it fixed. I think that's what caused the problem. It either wasn't fixed correctly or, knowing my ex-wife, she probably compromised on the fix."

Shirley said that his ex-wife, Monserrate, has "a protective order" against him.

Asked if he believed his ex-wife started the explosion intentionally, Shirley said, "I don't think so because there was no real reason to. I pay a thousand dollars a month for one kid because she had a lawyer and I did not, so she has more than enough money," he said. "At one point the house was slipping into foreclosure. Last spring she had a buyer but she chose not to sell. We were in some bankruptcy but that's pretty well cleared up."

When asked about Shirley's claims, Burris told ABC News, "That's totally too far to even say anything. I can't even speculate. It's totally not something we've heard, but I'm sure it's something we'll look into."

The explosion took place around 11 o'clock Saturday night, destroying dozens of homes in the Richmond Hill neighborhood south of downtown.

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