Some residents still looking for new homes after apartment explosion

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 19, 2014)– Indianapolis Fire Department officials said Monday they do not suspect criminal activity in the Thursday night explosion that blew apart a corner of one building at the Pangea Riverside Apartments on the northwest side.

“Everybody is curious to know what happened,” said Indianapolis Fire Department Captain Rita Reith. “At this point, they really don’t have any idea, although they are just looking at accidental causes.”

Reith said arson investigators have been able to interview the two college students who live in the unit at the center of the blast. The two students remain hospitalized in good condtion.

Based on those interviews and other evidence gathered outside the building, the cause is presumed to be accidental. However, a thorough investigation inside the building has yet to take place.

That interior investigation is expected to start within the next couple days. Engineers have deemeed the structure safe enough for investigators to go inside and look for the exact cause of the explosion. Utility officials have already said there were no problems or leaks with any gas lines leading into the building.

Some neighbors told investigators they could smell a strong odor like rotten eggs before the blast.

By Monday afternoon, construction crews had boared the corner of the building.

Some displaced residents were still scrambling to find new places to live. After the explosion, Pangea Properties provided those residents with a three-day hotel stay. That is about to run out. Pangea Properties is offering to let residents live out the remainder of their leases at one of the nine other properties owned by the company around the city.

But those without renters insurance are finding that the cost of making the move will come out of their own pockets.

“This explosion had nothing to do with me,” said Brian Champion, who lived a couple doors down from the explosion. “But I’ve gotta spend my money to move when it’s their property that caused the problem.”

Some residents have been allowed to go into their apartments to collect property. But others, who live closest to the center of the explosion, have not.

Pia Corbin says her car, which was parked outside the building, was damaged by flying debris from the explosion. But, she says, she can’t drive it anyway because her keys are still in her apartment. And she hasn’t been able to go inside to look for them.

“I have no way to get around other than my son,” Corbin said.

Captain Reith said investigators will certainly make an effort to find Corbin’s car keys when they go into the building. That part of the investigation will be a joint operation involving the Indianapolis Arson Investigations Unit and insurance investigators for Pangea Properties.