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Mon Nov 12, 2012, 01:54 PM

Owner: Furnace may be behind deadly Indiana blast

Source: AP-Excite

By TOM LoBIANCO

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The owner of a house that exploded in Indianapolis, killing two people and damaging dozens of homes so severely officials say they must be demolished, said Monday that a problem furnace could be at fault.

John Shirley, 50, of Noblesville, told The Associated Press that his daughter sent him a text message last week complaining that the furnace in the home where she lives with her mother and her mother's boyfriend had gone out and required them to stay at hotel.

But Shirley also said when he asked if the furnace had been fixed, his daughter said yes, and he wasn't aware of any additional problems until he heard from his daughter again Sunday morning.

"I get a text from my daughter saying 'Dad, our home is gone. Then I called my ex-wife and she said what happened," he said.

FULL story at link.



Read more: http://apnews.excite.com/article/20121112/DA2GJJK00.html




This aerial photo shows the two homes that were leveled and the numerous neighboring homes that were damaged from a massive explosion that sparked a huge fire and killed two people, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, in Indianapolis. Nearly three dozen homes were damaged or destroyed, and seven people were taken to a hospital with injuries, authorities said Sunday. The powerful nighttime blast shattered windows, crumpled walls and could be felt at least three miles away. (AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Matt Kryger) NO SALES

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Reply Owner: Furnace may be behind deadly Indiana blast (Original post)
Omaha Steve Nov 2012 OP
Posteritatis Nov 2012 #1
jtuck004 Nov 2012 #2
NutmegYankee Nov 2012 #22
jtuck004 Nov 2012 #31
Posteritatis Nov 2012 #33
jtuck004 Nov 2012 #34
valerief Nov 2012 #3
valerief Nov 2012 #4
randome Nov 2012 #8
valerief Nov 2012 #12
Myrina Nov 2012 #15
Kaleva Nov 2012 #5
NickB79 Nov 2012 #7
Kaleva Nov 2012 #13
demhottie Nov 2012 #6
randome Nov 2012 #9
demhottie Nov 2012 #36
Beaverhausen Nov 2012 #39
Contrary1 Nov 2012 #41
MrYikes Nov 2012 #10
Atypical Liberal Nov 2012 #17
Strelnikov_ Nov 2012 #27
Contrary1 Nov 2012 #11
Atypical Liberal Nov 2012 #16
McCamy Taylor Nov 2012 #14
countryjake Nov 2012 #18
NutmegYankee Nov 2012 #24
Strelnikov_ Nov 2012 #29
BlueMan Votes Nov 2012 #37
NutmegYankee Nov 2012 #38
Kaleva Nov 2012 #19
hunter Nov 2012 #20
Kaleva Nov 2012 #21
WestCoastLib Nov 2012 #26
Kaleva Nov 2012 #30
Strelnikov_ Nov 2012 #32
Kaleva Nov 2012 #23
LanternWaste Nov 2012 #25
countryjake Nov 2012 #28
silvershadow Nov 2012 #35
du_grad Nov 2012 #40
Javaman Nov 2012 #42

Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:04 PM

1. That's one hell of a fault. Was it burning oil or antimatter? (nt)

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Response to Posteritatis (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:09 PM

2. Nearly exactly what I was thinking. I've seen commercial blow ups before,

trapped gas and all that, but... dayum. The flame mark gave me pause though, lot of fire at once.

Maybe there was a wine cellar that stored a leak of lighter than air natural gas?

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Response to jtuck004 (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:10 PM

22. There was a house here in Conn. that exploded from a Propane leak. The house was obliterated.

If the house was modern and unoccupied it could have trapped most of the leaked gas.

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Response to NutmegYankee (Reply #22)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:34 PM

31. Propane is heavier, would tend to settle, a little different. And even in modern homes


recessed lights, etc should provide a path for natural gas to get out, but obviously that's tricky. Sometimes furnace closets are closed off but somewhat vented, although with the new ones that only have a pvc line out for condensation that may well be different.

You are right, though, the more modern the less leaky.

But it not only took out this house, but most of next door, and at last report tore up 30 other houses so badly they are uninhabitable.

That's still a hell of an energy release it seems, even for natural gas, but possible if you could get enough of it contained and ignite it, I think.

Gonna be interested to see the results of their investigation.

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Response to jtuck004 (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:39 PM

33. The flame mark and the "intact" matchsticks outside of the burn area, yeah

The fire's one thing, but it looks like a sizable chunk of both houses were launched clear of it too.

There was definitely a non-trivial amount of energy released there.

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Response to Posteritatis (Reply #33)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 05:06 PM

34. Here's a shot of San Bruno -lot's of burn, maybe even a bigger fire,

but it didn't blow nearly a city block off the scene in the pics I have seen.

On the other hand, different mechanism and all that. Have to wait for investigation...

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:10 PM

3. I hope a gas Buderus can't do that.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:12 PM

4. What if it were a mix of exploding furnace, ammo room, meth lab, and methane eruption?

And lightning?

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Response to valerief (Reply #4)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:21 PM

8. Started by some kid playing with matches.

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Response to randome (Reply #8)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:28 PM

12. He wasn't satisfied with running with scissors and poking his eye out.

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Response to valerief (Reply #4)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:49 PM

15. In that part of the city, I'll give ya furnace, ammo room and meth lab ...

It's known as Kentucky-North by most of us on the far-northside of Indy.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:15 PM

5. I wouldn't want to be the guy who worked on that furnace.

I'd be sick to my stomach thinking about what I may have done wrong.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #5)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:19 PM

7. I'm thinking it might have been a DIY job

The homeowners might have thought they had the problem fixed, when in actuality they just made things worse.

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Response to NickB79 (Reply #7)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:47 PM

13. Could be. I've done many jobs where the homeowner first tried to fix it.

And they sometimes made things worse.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:15 PM

6. Responsible for the deaths of two people.. but only mention losing your home



interesting ...

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Response to demhottie (Reply #6)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:22 PM

9. It remains to be seen whether negligance had anything to do with it.

Besides, it sounds like it's his ex-wife's home, not his.

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Response to randome (Reply #9)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 06:12 PM

36. The DAUGHTER had the problem with the furnace and the DAUGHTER is the one that said



"Dad, our home is gone." I'm assuming the DAUGHTER is an adult and I pointed out that rather than mention the two deaths, she referred first to the loss of their home.

Yes, it remains to be seen if negligence had anything to do with it, but either way, her response sounds callous.

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Response to demhottie (Reply #36)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 11:14 PM

39. She may not have known yet about the deaths

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Response to Beaverhausen (Reply #39)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 12:55 AM

41. Exactly. Or, maybe she did know...shock can make people react strangely.

Some years ago, my daughter was walking home from school with a neighbor. When she came in, 30 minutes later than usual, she had an odd look on her face. If I had to define it, it would be a dazed pasted on smile.

It took several minutes for her to tell me why. Her friend had been struck by a car on the walk home. She watched her fly through the air about 30 feet "in slow motion".

After she was able to verbalize that, she was inconsolable. She cried for hours.

I don't judge people for what they do in times of stress.

(The friend sustained a broken ankle; but was otherwise ok.)

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:23 PM

10. I just can't understand how to get enough oxygen

to mix with the gas quickly enough to create the explosion.

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Response to MrYikes (Reply #10)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:57 PM

17. The house was filled with oxygen prior to the gas leak.

 

The house was filled with oxygen (well, air) prior to the gas leak.

As more gas leaks into the home, it mixes with the air already in the home.

If the there were ceiling fans on in the house, or if the central heat/air was running, it would further mix the gas and air throughout the house, until something lit it off.

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Response to Atypical Liberal (Reply #17)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:18 PM

27. . . resulting in a pressboard FAE

Side effect of modern energy efficient housing (sealing) was Radon.

Probably also increased possibility of explosions like this.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:24 PM

11. Our home shook, and we are 5 miles away from that neighborhood...

We thought a jetliner had gone down. Many others, as far away as 15 miles claim to have heard and felt it too.

I think it was too massive to have been caused by a faulty furnace.

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Response to Contrary1 (Reply #11)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:55 PM

16. Gas leak.

 

If the faulty furnace resulted in a gas leak, and the home filled up with gas before being lit off, it's quite possible.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:48 PM

14. Looks like a natural gas explosion.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 03:38 PM

18. I was suspicious at first when I saw the "For Sale" sign...

in the foreground of a pic at the site of the explosion, that the home had been for sale, by owner. Then, reading the article at the Indy Star site, some neighbors had said that the homeowner and her daughter had been staying elsewhere, while the whereabouts of a boyfriend were unknown.

Now, this article confirms that Indiana real estate records show Shirley's house had been for sale for a year until it was taken off the market in March.

I thought that most modern furnaces were equipped with electronic ignitions, so that burning pilot lights were no longer necessary, thus eliminating the danger of any gas accumulating. This article's explanation still seems screwy to me and if that furnace had actually been serviced within the past week, I certainly would not want to be the person who was responsible for that!





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Response to countryjake (Reply #18)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:14 PM

24. Even the pilot light style is safe.

The heat from the flame heats a thermopile, which produces the voltage needed to keep the gas valve solenoid open. If the pilot light goes out, the gas valve shuts due to a loss of voltage.

The standard 40 gallon gas fired hot water heater still has the pilot light.

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Response to countryjake (Reply #18)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:26 PM

29. RuhRo

As you note, damn near impossible with modern furnaces for this to happen. Would take major incompetence, or . .

Sipowicz would be liking the homeowner at this point.

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Response to countryjake (Reply #18)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 06:35 PM

37. gas water heaters have pilot lights...

 

if the house filled up with gas due to a furnace malfunction or faulty repair- by the time it reached a water heater pilot light in a combustible mixture with the air- the entire house would be filled with gas(at least i think that nat gas is lighter than air), since the water heater pilot light is very close to the floor.

I'm not saying that the water heater pilot is the source of ignition- but if it were, it would result in a pretty big BOOM.

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Response to BlueMan Votes (Reply #37)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 09:17 PM

38. The 2003 and later hot water heater now require a flame arrestor.

Hopefully this problem (gasoline vapor and such being ignited by the pilot) phases out in the next decade.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 03:41 PM

19. Interesting that the ex-wife declined to comment when asked.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 03:52 PM

20. My back-of-the-envelope calculation says it *could* be a gas explosion...

... but conditions would have to be exactly right.

A large volume of the house would have to be filled with an explosive gas-air mixture. How that could happen I can't guess. There would have to be quite a bit wrong with that furnace, starting with a plugged or disconnected flue and some sort of failure that allowed the gas to keep flowing and the air circulating even though the furnace wasn't lit. Any modern furnace has multiple redundant safety features to prevent this.

If you filled the entire house with an explosive gas-air mixture maybe you'd get an explosion equivalent to 50-250 sticks of dynamite.

From wikipedia I got a stick of dynamite = 1 MegaJoule of energy

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Response to hunter (Reply #20)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:00 PM

21. A news report said that a member of the family had smelled gas in the house.

"A source in touch with the couple told CBS Indianapolis affiliate WISH-TV that a member of the family had smelled gas in the house, but it was unclear if the smell had been reported with Citizens gas."

http://totallywp.com/2012/11/12/owner-of-exploded-ind-home-cites-faulty-furnace/

In another article, it was said that Citizens Gas had received no calls of a possible gas leak in that area.

The woman and her boyfriend were gone to a casino for the weekend when the explosion occurred. The daughter was staying at a friend's home and the pet cat was boarded.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #21)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:16 PM

26. Even the pet cat escaped?

Hey, if something tragic ever happened to my house, I'd be thankful to have a similar situation with my pets and family.

And I hope its only an accident, but when all family members and pets are conveniently away for the weekend, it does smell a little fishy.

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Response to WestCoastLib (Reply #26)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:32 PM

30. Makes me wonder.

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Response to WestCoastLib (Reply #26)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:36 PM

32. As that old detective saying goes

no such thing as coincidence.

With the house cleared out like it was, on the market for a long time, you can bet they are working this as arson.

May have been an accident, but they owe it to the victims to get to the bottom of what happened.

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Response to hunter (Reply #20)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:10 PM

23. Many modern gas furnaces have sealed combustion chambers...

and draw the combustion air from the outside. The furnace may have been worked on and the union on the gas line opened and then not tightened properly and leaked for a week and half before the house blew up.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #23)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:15 PM

25. That's what my BIL (TX Gas & Well Driller) thinks

"and the union on the gas line opened and then not tightened properly and leaked for a week and half before..."

That's what my BIL (TX Gas & Well Driller) thinks-- if the houses are either new or have been recently retrofit with serious insulation and window & door kits, that's a LOT of trapped gas waiting for one spark.

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Response to hunter (Reply #20)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:23 PM

28. I'm wondering the same things about that "faulty" furnace...

being that it is a fairly newer subdivision, so it couldn't have been an old-time cranky furnace. There are so many fail-safe systems built into modern gas appliances, with electronic sensors and other such gadgets that prevent any gas from entering the device if it is non-functioning.

I think that the co-owners of those homes, the divorced couple, the Shirleys, have quite a bit of 'xplaining to do, concerning this tragic disaster.

I also haven't a doubt that it could have been natural gas that exploded to destroy the neighborhood. I saw the results of such force decades ago in Cincinnati, Ohio, when one home was totally disintegrated and similar damage to surrounding houses occurred. Of course, those neighboring structures back then were older homes, built with actual sturdy wood, rather than fiber board/pressed wood product, so they were better able to withstand the power of the blast. But windows were blown out for blocks around and it was also a whopper of an explosion.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 05:40 PM

35. Doesn't sound like he consulted an attorney before that statement. I wouldn't be making *any

statements. Period.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 11:17 PM

40. I was about a half mile from a gas leak explosion in the early 70's

There were three houses destroyed and the explosion could be heard and felt at least a mile away. It was a smaller (and older) house than these. I literally felt the floor come up under my feet. I was living in an old brick duplex at the time - very solidly built apartment building.

Even though this is from 1972, there's a good explanation of how gas explosions actually work in this article.

http://tinyurl.com/cmfu5k5

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 09:06 AM

42. Having been a fireman in one of my former lives...

I have seen a few furnaces explode and frankly, unless it was a gas furnace with some truly major problems, that doesn't appear to me to look like a furnace explosion.

Just my two cents and I'll wait for the investigation.

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