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Camby house explosions caused by excavating crew, investigators say

CAMBY, Ind. – The explosions and fire that destroyed a house in Camby late Monday morning was caused by an excavating crew that damaged an underground gas line while digging, according to investigators with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission Pipeline Safety Division.

Investigators on the scene say the digging crew hit an underground Vectren gas line that feeds into the east side of the house.   The investigators would not release the name of the excavating company or who had contracted them, citing the ongoing investigation.  Officials at Indiana 811 would also not release information about any company who may have called for a locator request in order to dig on the property.

The blast leveled and burned a two-story house in the Heartland Crossing community on Monday. The family’s two dogs were killed in the explosion.

“I just heard this loud boom and a couple pictures fell off the wall,” said neighbor Steve Andrew.  “And I thought a plane had hit a house, to be quite honest.”

“First thing that came to my mind after I came out and saw after the explosion was that Richmond Hill,” Andrew said.

Pipeline Safety Division investigators said they still need to interview several people to complete their investigation.

The findings regarding the cause of the explosions and fire confirmed the suspicions of many people in the Heartland Crossing neighborhood.  Adam Frank, who lives next door to the destroyed house, recalls talking to members of an excavation crew around 10:00 a.m. Monday, roughly 45 minutes before the first explosion.

“I had some cable workers knock on my door, unidentified, not sure what company they were working with,” Frank said.  “But they knocked on my door and asked me to move my car. My car was on the left slot of my driveway, and they said they were going to be running some cable in the neighbor’s yard and they needed me to move my car.”

Other neighbors said they saw an excavation crew consisting of two men and a teenager, hauling equipment in a trailer behind a possibly black pickup truck.  One piece of equipment appeared to be roughly the size of a riding lawn mower.  Several nearby residents recall seeing the members of the excavating crew take off running from the house after the first explosion occurred.

“Before you do any kind of digging out here, why don’t you do what the state of Indiana tells you to do,” said neighbor Norman Fuchs.  “Call before you dig.”

Frank also says his next door neighbor had told him a crew was scheduled to come out and lay cable internet lines in his yard on Saturday, but the crew never showed up that day.  Then, he says, the crew showed up unannounced late Monday morning.

Plainfield Fire Department officials say they plan to release a comprehensive statement on the explosions and fire in the coming days.