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State fire marshal: Probe into Madison Twp. house explosion could take months

By BETH BURGER • Nov 9, 2017 at 9:00 PM

MADISON TOWNSHIP (TNS) — Columbia Gas of Ohio is asserting its lines weren’t responsible for a fatal explosion this week at a house in Madison Township, but the state fire marshal's office said Thursday it could be months before its investigation determines the blast's origin and cause.

“Based on our inspections and observations to date, we remain confident that our main lines and service lines did not contribute to this incident,” according to a statement issued by Columbia Gas.

Kelly Stincer, a spokeswoman for the State Fire Marshal's Fire and Explosion and Investigation Bureau, said its investigation is ongoing to determine the origin and cause of the explosion. She was unable to independently verify if Columbia is indeed not liable for the explosion. She said it could be months before the bureau's investigation is completed.

“We will continue to support their investigation,” Columbia said in its statement Wednesday.

First responders were called just before 4 a.m. Monday in the 3300 block of Everson Road East.

Stewart Bell, 59, who owned the home, was in a second-story bedroom when he was blown out of the house and landed in the driveway. He told The Columbus Dispatch in an interview that he smelled gas outside of his home last week, but didn’t smell anything indoors or near the gas meter. He said that's why he chose not to report the smell to Columbia Gas or call 9-1-1. He was released from the hospital this week.

Bell's girlfriend, 54-year-old Shelly Williams, was also in a second-story bedroom when the blast happened. She was trapped under rubble and later died from internal injuries at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

If anyone smells the odor of natural gas, they're urged to call Columbia at 800-344-4077 and also call 9-1-1.

bburger@dispatch.com

@ByBethBurger

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