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Two Die as Huge Explosion Levels Indianapolis Neighborhood

A roaring explosion that leveled two homes  and set two others ablaze in a huge fire forced about 200 people from a  devastated Indianapolis neighborhood where at least two people were killed,  authorities said Sunday.

The powerful nighttime blast shattered  windows, crumpled walls and inflicted other damage on at least 14 other  homes.

Two people were taken to a hospital with  minor injuries after the explosion and fire, said Lieut. Bonnie Hensley, with  the Indianapolis Fire Department.

She said firefighters later put out the  flames and searchers then went through the rubble and damaged homes one at a  time in case others were left behind. At least one body has been  recovered.

Authorities say a loud explosion has leveled a home in Indianapolis and set four others ablaze in a neighborhood, causing several injuries

Some witnesses said in televised reports that  they heard people screaming ‘help me! help me!’ after the explosion and fire and  that two parents and two children were safely pulled from one house that caught  fire.‘This looks like a war zone; it really does,’  Hensley told The Associated Press.

‘Police officers and fire department  officials remain at the scene searching for other possible victims.’She said  they used search lights until dawn as they peered into the damaged and ruined  homes.

She declined to identify the only confirmed  fatality, saying only that the body was found in one of the leveled homes after  the fire was put out. Fire officials told AP after daybreak that they were not  immediately releasing any further information until later Sunday  morning.

The explosion at 11pm Saturday destroyed two  houses that were side by side and spread fire to two other nearby homes in the  neighborhood on the south side of Indianapolis, she said, adding at least 14  other homes were damaged in the area by the blast’s shock wave or flying debris  it kicked up.

The blast was heard for miles all around, and  authorities said they had no immediate information on the cause. An  investigation by fire and other agencies was under way. Reports said the Bureau  of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also was involved.

Collateral damage: The fire started at one home and spread to four others

Many people were asleep at the time and had  to be evacuated in pajamas, scooping up their pets as they left hastily,  authorities said. They left what some described as a chaotic scene of tall  flames rising on the Indianapolis skyline.

Survivors reported shattered windows,  caved-in walls and garage doors knocked off their hinges. And of the two homes  that were leveled by the blast, Hensley said: ‘There’s nothing  left.’

Complicating the pre-dawn search of the  neighborhood, authorities did not know definitively how many people were in the  neighborhood when the blast occurred.

‘People scattered when all this happened, so  we’re not really sure how many people we’re looking for,’ Hensley  said.

Bryan and Trina McClellan were at home with their 23-year-old son Eric when the shock wave from the blast a block away shuddered through their home. It knocked the windows out along one side of their home and their first instinct was to check on their two toddler grandchildren in the basement.

One was holding his ears and saying “Loud  noise, loud noise.”

Eric McClellan said he ran afterward to the  scene of the explosion and saw homes leveled or nearly so.

‘Somebody was trapped inside one of the  houses and the firefighters were trying to get to him. I don’t know if he  survived,’ he said, adding firefighters were trying to save a  man.

He said he didn’t know the man’s fate as  firefighters ordered him to leave.

The cause of the explosions remains unknown,  authorities said. Investigators were expected to better assess the rubble after  daybreak for clues to what happened. Meanwhile, all power, gas and other  utilities were shut off as a precaution as emergency officials swarmed the  site.

Approximately 200 people were taken to an  elementary school where only about 15 to 25 remained through the night, sleeping  on cots. Most of the evacuees subsequently left to stay with relatives, friends  or at hotels.

The powerful blast caught sleeping people  unaware.

Pam Brainerd, a 59-year-old hospice nurse,  said she was asleep on her couch when the tremendous explosion rocked the  neighborhood, blowing out the upstairs windows in her house.

‘I was sleeping on the sofa and all of a  sudden, my upstairs windows were blowing out and my front door was falling in,’  Brainerd told AP. ‘My front door came off the frame. It was the largest bang  I’ve ever heard.’

Right after the explosion she stepped outside  to see what she described tall flames one street away.

‘There was a house engulfed in flames and I  could see it spreading to other houses,’ she added.

At the elementary school, authorities sought  to impose order and calm on an initial scene of confusion.

Some evacuees milled about the elementary  school in pajamas and coats they grabbed as they left their homes. Some had  their dogs on leashes and one lady had evacuated her home with a cat. Beyond the  school’s parking lot, smoke was still visible, rising in the distance before  dawn. The smoke was illuminated by bright lights of emergency  responders.

The cause of the explosion and fires wasn’t  immediately clear, but Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard immediately squelched  initial speculation of a possible plane crash. “It was so strong that it clearly  had an effect for blocks,” Ballard said while grey clouds of smoke still  billowed after the fires were contained.

While some questioned whether natural gas was  suspected in the blast, he said he had no preliminary information on a possible  cause. He said it was still a time for taking care of those forced  out.

‘We’re going to need some comforting in the  next few days,’ Ballard added.

Source: The Daily Mail

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Posted by on November 11, 2012. Filed under NY News,Slider. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.