Ohio - Cincinnati - Gas explosion, fire in Sycamore Twp; neighbors suspect leaking since summer '99

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Neighbors question gas lines after fire

By Ellen Lord, Post staff reporter

An explosion and fire that destroyed a Sycamore Township home Saturday have neighbors worried about the safety of gas lines in their neighborhood.

''They feel like something's not right here,'' said Gerri Jacobs, who lives down the street from the house at 3781 Belfast Ave. that was destroyed in a fire Saturday night.

The owners escaped but the fire took their home and their dog, neighbors said. One neighbor said firefighters were at the house, which began burning about 8:17 p.m. Saturday, until about 10 a.m. Sunday.

''It's destroyed. The whole back end and side are gone,'' Ms. Jacobs said. ''(Firefighters) got here really, really quick and there was nothing they could do.''

She said neighbors had been smelling gas on the street for months - some even since summer.

Sycamore Township Assistant Fire Chief Douglas Morath said today investigators were still looking into the cause of the fire. ''The house was totalled obviously, but we are not sure what the total damage amount is that's been placed on it,'' Morath said.

Residents at another house, only three doors down from the fire, reported smelling gas in their basement Wednesday. Debbie Setser said Cinergy employees checked her house, on the corner of Belfast Avenue and Glenburney Court, and told her there was a leak. They also inspected the neighboring house, she said.

''They said that we had a leak in the main pipe or whatever it was,'' she said. ''They said that they had repaired that.''

Saturday night, Mrs. Setser and her husband, Audie, came home between 7:30 and 8 p.m. and smelled gas in the front yard. They called Cinergy.

About the same time that the employee from Cinergy pulled up in front of their house, the Setsers heard and felt an explosion from the house three doors down.

''The people's house exploded and shook everything in the neighborhood,'' Ms. Jacobs said. ''It smelled like it was in your own home.''

Cinergy spokeswoman Kathy Meinke said the company has since found and repaired two hairline breaks in the main outside the home but is not sure if they played a role in the blast.

''We do not at this point know where the gas source came from,'' she said. She said she couldn't estimate when the company would know what had happened.

Publication date: 02-14-00


-- Lee Maloney (leemaloney@hotmail.com), March 16, 2000

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