Top Expert on Indiana Blast: “It looks like methane” … “Military ammo dropped from a plane would cause similar damage” — Company: No evidence of leak in gas lines

Published: November 15th, 2012 at 9:02 am ET


Title: Forensic expert examines fiery south side explosion; Citizens Energy evaluates home’s meter
Source: ABC 6
Author: Ebone Monet
Date: Nov. 15, 2012
h/t Anonymous tip

Citizens Energy Group said its workers have finished testing the gas meter for the home that exploded on Indianapolis’ south side Saturday. […]

With workers not finding problems with underground gas pipes, the National Transportation Safety Board has pulled out of the investigation. […]

Citizen Energy leaders say their workers haven’t found the cause either, with no evidence of a leak in the gas lines running to the homes.

Still, Indianapolis Homeland Security is convinced natural gas is behind the blast, and investigators are focusing on home appliances. […]

Director of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program Dr. John Goodpaster reviewed the explosion at the request of a local TV station:

  • “When you look at this damage, it literally does look like a bomb went off. It’s catastrophic”
  • “In terms of making a parallel, it’s equivalent to literally having a bomb dropped on you, so like a military ammunition dropped from an airplane would cause similar damage to this”
  • “It’s my opinion it looks like methane gas was the explosive and in that case you actually can’t identify that after the fact”
  • “You just have look at the scene itself, the type of damage that was caused”
  • It would take an appliance leaking gas for several days to create enough buildup to cause an explosion of this magnitude, but once it did, even something as simple as static could set it off
  • “We should also be prepared for that we may not find the ultimate clue. It may not be possible, given how much destruction has occurred, to actually confirm”
Published: November 15th, 2012 at 9:02 am ET


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18 comments to Top Expert on Indiana Blast: “It looks like methane” … “Military ammo dropped from a plane would cause similar damage” — Company: No evidence of leak in gas lines

  • guezilla

    Another misleading title, as the summary mentions offhand, “It’s my opinion it looks like methane gas was the explosive and in that case you actually can’t identify that after the fact”. Also with regards to the gas company finding no fault in their self-ran investigation, as has been noted:

    "I would expect Citizens Gas to say they're not finding anything wrong whether they did or didn't at this point" forensics consultant Jay A.Siegel said.

    "The Star spoke Monday with four explosive experts after they reviewed photos and news accounts of Saturday evening’s explosion on Indy’s Southside.
    Each said the blast could very well have come from a natural gas explosion."

    The only missing link was the smell of gas, but now:

    "Attorney: 12-year-old daughter of Indianapolis homeowner smelled gas-like odor before fatal explosion"
    "I smelled a little bit in the laundry room and then I went inside and I didn't smell nothing", [the mother] Shirley said.

    Trumpeting this up as anything else especially at this point is… ah, well, I'll leave it at that 🙂

    • Usefulbreather

      At room temperature and standard pressure, methane is a colorless, odorless gas. The familiar smell of natural gas as used in homes is a safety measure achieved by the addition of an odorant, usually blends containing tert-butylthiol.

      • guezilla

        Just to note on this, several of the articles on the Indiana explosion have experts pointing out that the smelling additive could be partially or completely filtered out when leaking from pipes through ground.

        It's pretty scary thought this could sneak up on you with NO warning; likewise if the leak happened at night most people wouldn't really react in their sleep. And realize it's also possible to die through asphynxia, either from the gas itself or carbon monoxide from the incomplete burning/ventilation.

        The protip to avoid most of that is to have gas appliances checked regularly, and only repair/service them by qualified people. And any smell of the gas-additive is to be taken seriously, not "oh, it'll go away" thing. Beyond that, a combined carbon monixide and gas detector is cheap insurance.

    • garjackson

      then why did NTSB leave, you'd think they'd follow up on the gas leak

      • guezilla

        The original headline I was responding to read "Top Expert on Indiana Blast: “Military ammo dropped from a plane would cause similar damage… It looks like methane” — Company says no evidence of leak in gas lines", hence the outbursty first post 🙂 The headline's obviously been changed since then, just clarifying that.

        By the way, this blog is still called "Energy News", not "Conspiracy Central" for example. So unless the Moerator calls otherwise, gas-explosions are still very much on-topic for this blog (in reference to comments like "Why is this here" or "Move along, nothing to see here"). Plus as is apparent, there's potential to easily save many lives with awareness of natural gas dangers and issues: (Every state or gas-company generally has one of these pages, no idea how good one that is…)

        NTSB was involved in the capacity as gas-pipeline oversight. With Citizen Gas declaring their self-conducted investigation found no issue with the gas-pipes themselves, NTSB had no jurisdication over it. They do not deal with gas-appliance failures or regular criminal investigations. I too was initially confused with the residents only allowed back in for a hour under police escort if at all, and comments the investigation would take weeks, but with the revelation that it is being treated as crime scene that all makes sense.

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    The loose assumptions about the cause are odd, at best.

  • garjackson

    With such dangerous stuff inside and under everybodys homes you might think they would make them have a system to figure this out before an explosion happens and prevent it….but they cant even figure out what happened afterwards. pathetic

  • Sickputer

    The "expert": "it’s equivalent to literally having a bomb dropped on you, so like a military ammunition dropped from an airplane would cause similar damage to this”

    SP: I think we already mentioned that solid phase explosives create a crater. So where's the hole? Where's the bomb parts? Hiding fragments might be easy…covering up a crater is a little more time-consuming.

    I suspect they know it's a gas leak blast…they are trying now to see if the homeowner committed arson. So don't expect much information until they think they have something valid in court. If this is arson it will involve more serious charges of manslaughter

    Move along folks…nothing to see here right now. Refocus on Louisiana. There's a real disaster in the making there.

  • or-well

    Whatever the cause, there's a lesson in interdependence.
    You do nothing wrong and in a flash, all you own or your life is gone.

    We're all so dependent on the honesty, integrity, competence, ability, motivations, biases, knowledge etc of others.

    Your neighbors furnace. The nuke plant. The pipeline. The train engineer. The driver late for work. On and on.

    I can watch passing freight trains carrying dangerous chemicals. Derailment at 4 AM?
    Will my apartment neighbor fall asleep drunk with hot oil on the stove?
    Which nuke plant will fail next?

    The only equivalency I make is it's all risk. What could kill me or make me a refugee? A lot. The odds? We all face some kind of catastrophic probability.

    My point? Maybe this – I want an educated society that isn't head-in-the-sand, that thinks long-term, that evaluates consequences before touting benefits.

    Maybe this is off-topic and I'm rambling.

  • razzz razzz

    Can't wait to see what the insurance companies and their adjusters determine for any type of payouts.

    Clowns running the circus: We know what happened but we are not going to tell anyone.

    Remember the arms depot blowing up while the train went by? Have heard nothing but crickets about it.

    • guezilla

      On the topic of conspiracies and unexplained stuff, there's always (although as the Wikipedia QA notes, rather poorly sourced article).

      But the bottom line is, the unexplained happens from time to time.

      That said, arms depots blowing up do not generally fall under the "unexplained explosions" category 🙂 Problem with conspiracies is it's always possible to claim coverup or planted evidence etc. Sometimes it's even right. "Investigators said Private Alexander Kasatkin had confessed to smoking as the munitions were being unloaded from trains, in violation of safety regulations."

      This was not the first time an explosives depot went up in smoke, or dust or other bits, in Russia due to poor handling or other violations of regulations, and certainly won't be the last. It's also possible if not even likely some would be scapegoats to hide officer or higher level misconduct or intentional acts – but again, it's easy to suspect various things, hard to prove.

  • gladys a milyon gladys a milyon

    It's interesting that guezilla. With all of your sourcing you missed the third home explosion in albion, indiana. A few days after the Indy blast. A house exploded . With no fire.

    Pretty strange. But I'm no expert so it may just all be media hype


    • Sickputer

      guezilla didn't "miss" any sourcing from the Albion explosion nor did I.

      I can tell you the homeowners's names from my searching through 20-30 news articles online.

      I am all ears for more news… but I am not expecting any unusual causes beyond what typically causes a cold weather house explosion. The usual suspects are commercial gas or propane explosions (accidental or on purpose) and meth lab explosions. Anything beyond that might or might not leave clues.

      If a fire is arson it is a very tough crime to prosecute. Fire destroys clues and criminals establish alibis. Some info about arson:

      "Arson cases are the least often, least effectively prosecuted criminal offenses in America. At the same time, arson cases are the single largest dollar loss crime in America, exceeding the total of all burglaries, thefts and armed robberies combined. The clearance rate nationally in arson cases is under ten percent. The conviction rate nationally, as a percentage of the incidence of arson, is under one percent. An arsonist has a ninety-nine percent statistical probability of escaping conviction for his crime."

  • Anthony Anthony

    Indiana Explosion Investigation Coming To An End
    Posted: 11/15/2012 12:35 pm EST Updated: 11/15/2012 5:04 pm EST

  • 16Penny 16Penny

    Update! Investigation of blast has turned into homicide investigation. Authorities seek witnesses who saw white van.

    Title: Indianapolis explosion investigated as criminal homicide