Multiple deaths after ‘gas explosion’ devastates Indiana neighborhood — “So big and overwhelming you can’t explain it” — Homeland Security investigating (PHOTOS & VIDEO)

Published: November 11th, 2012 at 8:47 am ET


Source: Mark (WISH)

KION/KCBA: The Indianapolis Fire Department said late Saturday night an explosion destroyed two homes and damaged dozens of others. The explosion happened on the 8400 block of Field Fair Way and Towhees Drive. Dispatchers said there was a gas explosion on the south side of the city. […] There’s extensive damage to homes surrounding the explosion site.

“So big and overwhelming you can’t even explain it”

Tristate: An apparent gas explosion rocks an Indianapolis neighborhood […] Smoke and flames filled the air. Local Authorities and Homeland Security are investigating the blast, which sent debris flying into the air. Fire crews say there is extensive damage in the neighborhood.

WISHTV: Citizens Energy shut off gas to all the homes in the subdivision and investigated potential gas issues in the neighborhood. An official said the company had received no reports of an odor of gas in the area, and no gas leaks had been discovered as of early Sunday morning.

See over 30 eyewitness-submitted photos here

Published: November 11th, 2012 at 8:47 am ET


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58 comments to Multiple deaths after ‘gas explosion’ devastates Indiana neighborhood — “So big and overwhelming you can’t explain it” — Homeland Security investigating (PHOTOS & VIDEO)

  • markww markww

    Looking at the pictures it looks like a gas line pipe explosion. They have to get with the gas company and see if they had any calls as to smells fume leakage and people reporting anything. Markww

  • sugr37 sugr37

    Seems like a gas line explosion to me too. Hmmm, lots of ground shifting and shaking going on lately.

    • skizexq skizexq

      I recall that an actvist/opponent to the PGE pipelines was killed in the San Bruno explosion, maybe only coninkidink, maybe not
      EXREME IRONY if not:

      from wikipedia: [in addition to the 6 dead]
      Two other people at the Claremont address close to the explosion were among those killed: Jacqueline Greig, 44, and her 13-year-old daughter Janessa Greig. Greig worked for the California Public Utilities Commission, in a small unit that advocates for consumer rights pertaining to natural gas regulations. She had spent part of the summer evaluating PG&E's expansion plans and investment proposals to replace out-of-date pipelines.[20][21]

      • richard richard

        Brilliant. You've reminded me of that fire. But there was a bush fire going on I recall.

        A couple of years ago now.

  • NoNukes NoNukes

    I am so sorry that this has happened. Contact victims of the San Bruno fire in California for advice. The company remains locked in a legal battle with more than 300 fire survivors who have sued PG&E over the blast. A trial date is set for January, but the biggest cases involving deaths have settled for undisclosed sums. Mothers of San Bruno PG&E blast victims urge Gov. Jerry Brown to fire state's top utility regulator

    • dharmasyd dharmasyd

      Contact the San Bruno residents who went through a very similar gas pipeline explosion last year. This is great advice NoNukes. Find out about the troubles and stalls they had.

      It seems like many of our underground pipelines are reaching the end of their lifespans and succumbing to the expected wear.

  • I am curious if a pipeline ran under this neighborhood .
    Anyone know?

  • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

    Looking at the eyewitness photos, this looks like a terrible blast. I'm very sorry for the loss of life…

    Wouldn't it be great to have a non-fossil, non-explosive energy supply?

  • markww markww



    • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

      from your link:
      "witness saw METAL FALLING FROM SKY….


      To me, this sounds more like very poorly maintained infrastructure….

      • aigeezer aigeezer

        I always admire your restraint, B&B. I've been so tempted to say snarky things like "windmill explosion devastates neighborhood" or "this is what drone strikes do every day on the other side of the world", but… tragedy is tragedy. Nobody deserves that in their life – I hope the survivors find ways to cope with it.

        Life is so fragile.

        • Radio VicFromOregon

          I'm with you on that one aigeezer. BnB never tries to rub anybody's face into the dirt. And, your own sentiments are expressed so well that i want to repeat it – "tragedy is tragedy. Nobody deserves that in their life – I hope the survivors find ways to cope with it.

          Life is so fragile".

    • dharmasyd dharmasyd

      Original reports on San Bruno explosion also said it was a plane crash.

  • nedlifromvermont

    … Looks bad but not SO bad … as in this area will/can be rebuilt … we know who is burned or killed, so we can help or mourn them …

    … whereas if this had been a nuke explosion (yes Elizabeth, nuke plants really do explode) then whole area is evacuated for centuries (no kidding!!! you couldn't make this stuff up) and race is renamed the Santiago (as in Chile, South America) 500.

    … nuke is SO STUPID!!!! …. Abuse of False Science!!! …

    … peace …

  • NoPrevarication NoPrevarication


    "whereas if this had been a nuke explosion…" And realize that you cannot insure against a nuclear problem, so you would have no insurance.

    • PavewayIII PavewayIII

      Sure you can, NoPrevarication. U.S. nuclear plants have been insured since something like 1957 by their own Ponzi scheme called American Nuclear Insurance.

      The covered amounts are meaningless – $113M per reactor per accident. This allowed nuclear fleet operators to legally soak ratepayers for that tiny initial part of the risk. Consider the $17M premium payment per reactor per year from all ratepayers (whether they use electricity from an NPP or not) and you have worse than *no* insurance. NPP operators *must* have expensive insurance to be licensed, so they cooked up a scheme where it's essentially bogus and *free* insurance.

      Of course the billions in potential damages (beyond the first $113M) have to be covered by taxpayers. Congress has to approve those payments, but that's sort of a given.

      Between the utilities and 'the government', you would expect money to be flying out the door to victims in – oh, five or maybe ten years.

      Lost income isn't covered, so victims are still responsible for dragging their tumor-covered, ulcerated, bald asses down to the unemployment office if their former employer was vaporized. The now-homeless nuclear plant workers (peons, not management) will be there too. Your mortgage company will still expect your prompt payment each month. Home insurance? It usually does not cover damage from nuclear accidents. Health insurance? Nope. Gone with your former employer. Good luck getting COBRA without a phone number or address.

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Unfortunately, gas is too dangerous to use ..for this, and other reasons.

  • expat

    Doesn't it seem more likely that the what was raining down from the sky after the explosion started on the ground before?

  • BigLoner

    Hi All,

    MarkWW, I agree it's most likely gas main. I would think that given all CopCams / TrafficCams / 711Cams something would have picked up airplane / missile/ meteor / directed energy beam etc. Do you think maybe gas main suffered lateral / ??? stress from Kentucky what was it 4.6 or 4.9 EQ of couple days back? If so, probability is that other regional underground infrastructure took a hit as well.

  • markww markww

    ALSO have to consider a meth lab explosion when they were cooking flammable chemicals, they do make explosions like that too. will have to see what Arson comes up with

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    I'm startin' to think it wasn't gas, and that we'll never get the real answer.

  • TraderGreg

    I just don't get it – why they need to wait for someone to complain about an odor. This seems so unreliable and ancient. Shouldn't all gas companies have gas sensors everywhere near and above their gas pipelines and facilities?

    Why wait until after it blows up? They should better monitor the gas pressure along their pipelines and actually use computers instead of abacuses. Gas sensors along pipelines should be mandatory law.

    • dharmasyd dharmasyd

      Because the capitalistic goal of maximizing profits preempts proactive inspection and maintenance. Same thing as in Fuku. Don't check for problems because that may force us to spend money on upgrades.

      This mode of capitalistic thinking is dangerous to us all.

  • irhologram

    It doesn't generally seem true that spokesmen for the fire department use hyperbole…so I searched for video. Here is the best I found.
    Markww, after viewing these scenes, can you still say it could have been a meth lab? Can you EVEN say that a RESIDENTIAL gas line break COULD cause such damage. We're talking boards piled up in a heap, UNBURNED, down the street, across the street… a blast site. I AM very interested to know your opinion after viewing this footage.

    • guezilla

      Some images of meth lab explosions (some graphic ones of victims, too): Gas-mains explosions are easy to find on Youtube, for example

      Meth-lab explosions do not typically seem to take neighbors houses with them, however. Since the news say the explosion *leveled* two homes, and in the videos we can see possibly other severely damaged houses, I seriously doubt it could have been a meth-lab.

      That said, both meth-lab and gas-pipeline explosions are gas-explosions so they're going to be hard to tell apart after the fact, except maybe by size. Gas-company shut off gas as a precaution, so that won't tell much. And yes, there's explosion in the name, that's not just for hyperbole either, there's going to be some major blast damage when lot of gas explodes (just ask TEPCO).

      About only curious thing is gas-company's comment nobody reported smelling gas, but as it was 11pm on Saturday, anybody at home would have been fast asleep and not able to smell the gas. If it does not turn out to be gas-explosion, you can be sure the gas-company will fight it to the grave, maybe even if it WAS, since the damages will be extremely costly. They're on the defensive already, with "No gas smell reported at 11pm Saturday" and "No gas leaks found in burning rubble with gas cut off".

    • sentinelle sentinelle

      Good find on video clips irhologram!

      Wow what a blast!!

      The fire department spokesperson mentioned that a neighbor said one of the houses was vacant and there was a for sale in front. The neighborhood looks fairly upscale and newer so the gas lines shouldn't be old and worn. I'm wondering if someone turned on the gas to something, like a fireplace, stove or furnace and a pilot wasn't lit and the vacant home filled up with gas until something sparked the explosion.

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  • beamofthewave

    I wonder if the earthquake in Ky was caused by all the fracking that is going on down there.

  • richard richard

    some more details ..

    "The toll: Five homes destroyed or nearly destroyed; an additional 26 homes significantly damaged; 200 people forced from their homes; seven people injured; two people — presumed to be a second-grade teacher and her husband — dead."

    r: I was looking at the blast field. I'm obviously no expert, but the trajectory seems to be quite apparent. With one house, at least, utterly dissected.

    I don't quite see how a gas fitting in a house could contain such force. If they do .. wow people, your sitting on gas stations.

    If a gas appliance blows up, it probably takes out a wall or two, but to level, decimate, a building… that takes something more then the everyday suburban stuff, just in my opinion.

    • guezilla

      Have a look at this, then:

      Yes, that's three leveled houses being doused with fire-hoses when a fourth one blows up like a balloon.

      A longer version that gives some background:

      There's a difference in that according to earlier posted video an eyewitness clearly describes hearing only one explosion in the latest case. It's a question of ignition though, I would think it's certainly possible to have the explosion spread to more buildings.

      Coincidentally, they have history of this short of stuff, and also an example of secondary explosion:,_Indiana_explosion

      What I'm more curious about is, could a house blow up from gas leak without residents ever smelling gas, ie. the gas gathering in basement or some such? Or could an intact gas line explode as a result of, say, meth-lab explosion. I think the latter would give just a gas-blaze as the gas leaks and is burned off.

      • richard richard

        i wondered too about the 'meth-lab' concept. still, there was a massive amount of energy. i've no idea of the capabilities of a lab.

        what i'm suggesting about the trajectory is the orangey/brown wall brick chunks span out from the centre east/west, like a squashed bon-bon.

        i'm thinking all those brick chunks are from the first building to explode. all the other houses appear to have secondary impact/fire damage.

        i'll look at the yt clips a little later. thanks for the links.

        • Maggie123

          Isn't it possible not all meth operations are the same size – could someone have had a 'commercial sized' operation going, making a gigantic explosion possible? (I've no clue.)

          • richard richard

            i have no clue either.

            the Richmond explosion that guezilla referenced just so happened to be a gas explosion under a gun powder stash, which also exploded. Killing 41.

            bad coincidence that combination.

            the other gas examples i'm seeing aren't quite as substantial as this new one, but that's my subjective call from pics.

            • guezilla

              I did say it was an example of secondary explosion. Still, I shouldn't need to be doing the legwork here 🙂 Here's news article on the last major gas-explosion, and the video-clips included are enlightening about the issue as well:

              That is not to say the case is done and closed, an explosion looks like an explosion, and with it and fire there won't be much immediate evidence to be had. But these things happen every few years in cities with natural gas pipes, often leveling several houses, and the damage shown here seems quite consistent with that.

              We'll see what comes of the gas-company's claim there were no leaks and no reports of gas smell however, but they seem to be in heavy damage-control mode denying everything. Most likely authorities will be able to pinpoint it to gas mains leak though. A gas stove or something left open at empty house would be harder to prove I think, but they should be able to tell if it was natural gas or not.

          • guezilla

            Many ingredients a by-products of meth lab can be highly explosive, and yes, it would grow with scale. On the other hand, scaling up in size, especially in residential neighborhood, would be very, very easy way to get caught. Bringing in the materials and the fumes would surely be noticed by neighbors in an upper-class neighborhood.

            With gas main, the idea is the main pipe rusts or gets broken by shaking etc., and the gas starts to migrate underground, bubbling up everywhere it can a'la Bayou Corne, Lousiana (they originally suspected gas pipe leak, though little bigger pipes…). That's what led to the four house explosion I linked above.

            On the other hand richard's interpretation of single explosion source would be consistent with the eye-witness in one video describing single explosion. If the inhabitants left gas on while going on a vacation or something, it could have been quite a bomb from just one house I suppose.

      • richard richard

        thanks guezilla, that first clip, @0:25, gives a fine view of a house exploding. sheesh, what are people sitting on?

        where's that solar cell.. let me shake it around a little 😉

    • richard richard

      this other house blew up two weeks ago. in indianapolis.

      sabotage has been suspected. the house is leveled by 'gas' apparently. can't quite see it all, but the blast damage doesn't appear to be as strong.

      in the video the person says that a gas modulator was removed, along with electrical wiring ???? People stealing for copper or other technologies. the world's crazy, have i said that before?

  • markww markww



    I am going to toss one out here. Remember the explosion is and Near Shreveport there were theories of Methane gas and ufo crash or meteor


  • guezilla

    "As a summery day dawned Sunday, it became clear that the extent of the damage was even worse than it had seemed in the dark, when as many as 70 firefighters who responded to a report of a house on fire instead found a row of homes engulfed in flames." – this suggest there was a fire first, and explosion later (summery day?).

    "Deputy Code Enforcement Director Adam Collins said as many as 31 homes were damaged so badly that they might have to be demolished." That certainly IS extensive damage even for a gas mains explosion, especially one where no-one reports smelling the smelly additive added to those gas-lines.

    "And others, officials said, never will be allowed to go back inside their homes. "There are houses that will have to be torn down," Deputy Fire Chief Kenny Bacon said." – Now there's something for all you conspiracy-theorists 🙂

    "Bacon said investigators had not eliminated any possible causes for the blast. But U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, who represents the area, said he had been told a bomb or meth lab explosion had been ruled out."

    • richard richard

      "'summery day?', well, it is fauxnews 🙂

    • guezilla

      If the 31 homes needing to be demolished figure is true, then this explosion would be – at least in material damage – on par with 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion. That pipeline was no ordinary garden-variety mains but a 30 inch behemoth though, but then with gas it's not necessarily a question of pipe size but how much gas accumulates in explosive concentration.

      Wikipedia notes the explosion was so huge it took "over an hour" to even determine it was a gas-line explosion. I find it strange that 18 hours later Indiana officials are still saying they can't rule gas explosion in or out. However as the San Bruno explosion caused the gas company's shares to fall 8% immediately, and the litigation is still ongoing and seems quite likely to bankrupt the company, it's understandable the gas company would do anything to deny or delay admission of liability.

      Based on the aerial view and general description however I hold the explosion was closer to the 2011 Allentown, Pennsylvania explosion I linked to in earlier discussion above. In any case gas-explosions of this size DO occur recularily, and gas explosion has specifically not been ruled out as a cause yet. The gas-company is just saying they can't see any evidence.

      • Sickputer

        Follow the money trail…how much insurance was on the house? The divorced couple went bankrupt in 2007 and owed $200,000 plus on the house and in 2011 tried to sell it for $150,000 as a short sale, then removed it from the listing.

        I am not saying the fire was intentional…let's leave it to the arson investigators to sort it out.

        But…Funny business details on who let the cat out (cat was boarded while mom went to a casino with new boyfriend). Dad has restraining order but knows every little detail about ex-wife's whereabouts. Ex-wife has been missing in action for press interviews.

  • markww markww

    Yes RICHARD it was three Let me say this to you At least I am trying as allot of other people trying to figure out what happened. I HATE anyone having to go through this. Think about you in a home and it goes up like this would you want to know what happened.

    You have been posting on here and not helping. You have mocked me and other people something wrong with you sir,and you are rude too and not helping people. This type of explosion could happen in other areas. And being a fire captain I feel this story is DARN IMPORTANT to find thee root cause. yes I may have three i might have more too, time will tell


  • lickerface lickerface

    When this event occurred, the scanner radio app on my phone set off an alarm (it does when a specified threshold of listeners have joined a single feed). I heard the fire dept and DHS communicating non-stop. I need to check for an archive of the communication but I remember DHS2 unit nonchalantly requesting that "the utility company be notified so we can see about shutting the gas off." It gave me the impression that the request was a preventative measure… as if it wasn't a problem yet and could become one. I will try to locate the archived feed and post a link to it so y'all can draw up your own conclusions.

    Btw here are some decent pics,0,2743490.photogallery

    That basement could have been the origin. It looks pretty clean.

    • lickerface lickerface

      The archive for "Marion County MECA fire and rescue" I referred to is on but requires a premium subscription to access it. There was at least 3400 listeners when I looked at one point. We searched the web for dispatch calls last night and only saw a few 1 alarm fires and a single 2 alarm fire in that county. There was mention about the apartments to the west of that subdivision, so we were listening thinking it was an apt fire the whole time. I'll research more.

  • markww markww


    Investigation so far report

    1. Deputy Fire Chief Kenny Bacon told reporters Sunday investigators haven't eliminated any possible causes for the blast. But U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, who represents the area, said he had been told a bomb or meth lab explosion had been ruled out.

    2. Dan Considine, a spokesman for Citizens Energy, said the utility had not received any calls from people smelling natural gas in that area.

    "Most of the time, when there's a gas leak, people smell it," he said. "But not always."
    Carson said officials from the National Transportation Safety Board and the federal Department of Transportation, which have oversight over pipelines, were also sending investigators.

    Now what about methane hydrates from Louisiana. Explosion Trail looks similar like MINDEN metal raining down. people said metal was falling here too,from the air. As to the attic that is clean looks like what ever was next door crept underground and accumulated and lifted everything out. ALSO TOO could have gone from the basement across the ground but no one smelled anything. So here is the delima it is a mystery other things do not make sense like Space weapon attack from a satellite but would have not gone underground like this.UFO explosion do not think it would have done this but is possible look at the creator at Minden GAS Methane Hydrates running under ground going north up the New Madrid fault.BUT ALL TREES in a block did not loose leaves…

  • ftlt

    1000s of people around the world die and injured by pipeline and gas storage explosions every decade… It has been going on for a century or so – ever since major gas networks have be installed and used worldwide…

    Fact = Natural gas as is highly flameable and explosive…
    Fact = Pipelines and gas storage units and their laying bases, may move, age and decay over time, human errors occur – in their construction and while work is conducted around them causing leaks, fires and explosions…
    Fact = Many pipeline disasters in the 3rd world are the result of unsecured pipelines being illegally tapped by locals for fuel – have not found this documented in the USA (may have occured??) (See Nigeria)
    Fact = Earthquakes have been proven to cause major gas leaks, fires and explosions (are there any fracking related EQs that have been shown to have done this???)
    Fact = Major weather events are proven to cause major gas leaks, fires and explosions

    Unknown or undocumented causes of major natural gas disasters in USA = UFO crashes, meth lab explosions, terrorist bombings, HARRP related events, sudden polar shifts, mass mind melding events, Agenda 21, ETC.

  • lickerface lickerface

    "Dan Considine, spokesman for Citizens Energy, said the company's crews shut down the gas main along Fieldfare Way after the blast and on Sunday morning found NO LEAKS."

    So… just like I heard on the scanner, the utility company responded to the call to shut the gas off, and there are no leaks after the extensive damage. This likely was not caused by a cracked gas line.

  • 16Penny 16Penny

    Mark, you have some expertise in the oil industry. Is a mix of natural hydrocarbon gasses like what comes out of an oil well more or less explosive than typical gas used in homes?

    And if there is a Natural gas leak wouldn't there still be gas accumulating in the neighborhood?

    Going to need more pieces of the puzzle.

  • Sickputer

    Ok folks. Please deep six any theories previously held about underground methane explosions…the Indianapolis fire was arson:

    "The people have been charged with deliberating setting off a deadly gas explosion that decimated an Indianapolis neighborhood in the hopes of collecting an insurance settlement.

    The house's owner, Monserrate Shirley; her boyfriend, Mark Leonard; and his brother, Bob Leonard, were arrested on Friday and charged with murder, arson, and several other counts for their role in the Nov. 10 blast that killed two people.

    Authorities said Shirley, 47, was motivated by mounting financial worries including $63,000 in credit card debt and bankruptcy proceedings. Mark Leonard had allegedly just 'lost a ton of money' – roughly $10,000 – at a casino just three weeks before the explosion."

    Read more: