Investigation at Indianapolis blast site nears end

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Investigators hope to wrap up their work at the scene of the deadly Indianapolis house explosion by the end of the week, although they aren't putting a timeline on determining what caused the blast.

Fire Capt. Rita Burris said that repairs or demolition can't begin until the investigation is complete.

"The investigation is the investigation," Burris said. "Until they say jump, nobody else can do anything."

Engineers or insurance adjusters have assessed most of the homes damaged late Saturday night, minus about a dozen that require structural bracing and another 11 near the core of the explosion, of which little remains.

City code enforcement official Adam Collins said his agency hopes to have homes braced by Monday so their residents can return with insurance adjusters to assess damage and determine what's next.

"From there, we're going to start taking a look at what insurance companies are proposing about repairs or demolitions," he said.

Most residents of the Richmond Hill subdivision, even those with heavily damaged homes, have been allowed inside on a careful, limited basis to retrieve necessities, such as toiletries and credit cards, Collins said.

"At this point, everybody has been in to get the essentials," Collins said.

Tony Burnett, a 49-year-old electronics engineer who lives across the street from the blast zone, said he is still awaiting a contractor to board up his home's street-side windows, which were shattered by the blast. Part of his home was twisted off its foundation. But contractors can't reach the windows because rubble that's part of the investigation is in the street and blocking traffic, he said.

"We've been able to pull a couple of changes of clothes and some court documents, but that's about it," he said Wednesday afternoon.

Burnett said he and his wife's two cars and his truck must stay parked in their driveway until investigators complete their on-scene work. An insurance claims adjuster declared one of the cars totaled but hasn't examined the other two, Burnett said.

"The cars are still there, where we'd parked them. We're not allowed to move them," he said.

Some cleanup has already begun, Collins said. And if all goes well, Burris said, the neighborhood could be back to almost normal in a couple of weeks.

But all that is tentative.

"We're taking on this very much day to day, hour to hour," Collins said.

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Associated Press writer Rick Callahan contributed to this report.

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