Coroner identifies victims in Clinton County house explosion; cause of blast ‘undetermined’

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Aftermath of house explosion on Oct. 23, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ind. (Oct. 27, 2015) – Investigators believe it was an accident, but they may never know exactly what leveled a Clinton County home last week.

On Friday around 3:20 p.m., two people died after a home exploded at 4920 S. County Road 500 W. Using medical records, the Clinton County Coroner’s Office identified the victims as 63-year-old Charles Benefiel and 58-year-old Linda Benefiel. Coroner Amanda Abbott said both died from inhalation of superheated air.

According to the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, a witness driving on northbound I-65 looked over just as the home exploded, sending debris into the air and creating a fireball. The witness called 911 to report the incident, and crews from the Perry Township Fire Department were first to arrive.

Firefighters found the explosion had leveled the home and set all structures in the house on fire. Because of the heavy flames and smoke, crews couldn’t get inside the home. An investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s Office was called to the scene to determine what caused the explosion and fire.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office said an “undetermined” liquid propane source ignited the blast. Due to the amount of damage from the explosion and fire, investigators couldn’t determine the source of the propane leak or what caused it to ignite. Investigators said there were no signs of foul play. While they believe it was accidental, the official cause is “undetermined,” according to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.