'They lost everything'

Family: Gas leak caused explosion that injured three people and destroyed house and belongings.
MCT Regional News
Apr 15, 2013

The cause of the house explosion that injured three people has not yet been determined by the Ohio fire marshal, marshal public information officers Michael Duchesne said, although family members close to the situation say a gas leak caused the blast.

“At this point, it is all in hands of the insurance agencies, Geneva assistant Fire Chief Aaron Lenart said.

Flames lit up the sky in the early morning hours of April 3 when the house at 92 S. Cedar St. exploded, injuring Ashley Vincent, Scott Holy and Geneva Middle School student Jeremy Holy, 13.

Lenart said the local department will not issue an official cause of the explosion, as its jurisdiction as investigator has been passed to the state fire marshal and insurance company, as well as engineers from various utility companies.

“We are not experienced in this,” Lenart said. “The state fire marshal investigated, but we haven’t heard anything.”

Christi Wasson Stroud, mother of one of the explosion victims, said the cause has been preliminarily confirmed.

“From what we understand, this was an explosion caused by the gas lines,” she said. “The explosion happened behind the clothes dryer, even though it wasn’t a gas powered dryer. That’s all (the investigators) came up with.”

Scott Holy is still nursing severe burns from the explosion. The family, though they have rental insurance and the property owner has homeowner’s insurance, has been struggling, Stroud said.

“They lost everything,” she said. “And every thing is up in the air with the insurance companies.”

Most of the family’s pets were found and are now staying with Stroud. One cat is still missing, she said.

A benefit dinner will be held at the Geneva VFW on May 4 to help the family get back on their feet.

“The medical costs are quickly adding up,” Stroud said, “and they have to replace everything they owned.”

The dinner, which will be held from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., will include rigatoni, salad, rolls and dessert. Cost is $8 for adults and $5 for children. Tickets will be sold at the door.

The family is also in desperate need of donations of clothing and household items.

Vincent wears size 10 or 12 pants and women’s shirts, size medium. Scott Holy wears men’s size medium shirts and 32-32 pants. Jeremy Holy wears size 28-28 pants and size small men’s shirts. Kitchen items, furniture, toiletries, small appliances, linens and towels, and other household items are needed. Donations can be made at Northwest Ambulance District on Route 534 or by calling Stroud at 855-8226.

Monetary donations can be made in Ashley Vincent’s name at Huntington Bank branches.

“Although this is all far from over, we would like to thank the Geneva firefighters and rescue squad for their efforts,” Stroud said. “We have to thank all of the neighbors who jumped in and helped Ashley, Scott, and Jeremy during the immediate danger. We are also so grateful to all of our family and friends.”

Lenart said the situation was bad, but could have been far worse.

“It was a bad situation, but everyone is very lucky to be alive,” he said. “This is the sort of thing that can’t be prevented by homeowners, and it really could happen to any of us.”

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By Margie Netzel - Star Beacon, Ashtabula, Ohio (MCT)

©2013 the Star Beacon (Ashtabula, Ohio)

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