Huge explosion in Indianapolis destroys 2 homes, damages dozens more

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This one is really off the charts:
http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/11/11/huge-explosion-in-indianapolis-still-a-mystery-18-hours-later /
The aerial pictures are amazing.
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02395/Indianapolis_2395502b.jpg
http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/121111-indyexplosion-hmed-11a.photoblog600.jpg
Local gas company says they can find nothing wrong, no reports of gas leaks. Only two people died.
My theories:
Accidental:
1) Nobody home (maybe on vacation) and problem develops with furnace or gas water heater. Fills house with natural gas during the day / night. Turns house into a bomb. Something sets it off - takes out house next door (probably the two deaths). Easy to confirm if we know the whereabouts of the occupants of the two homes (not reported yet by media as far as I know).
Intentional causes:
2) Someone had an reason to kill the occupants of one of the homes. Drugs, bad debt, divorce/custody, love affair / adultery, etc.
3) Collect on insurance, make it look like a faulty appliance, went overboard with the amount of natural gas leaked.
4) Owners unemployed, bank about to repo the house, owner decided to give the bank a smouldering crater instead.
Anyone care to vote?
I vote for 4.
Regardless why or how it happened, I can't see anything other than a massive buildup of natural gas having enough energy to do this.
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On 11/12/2012 8:30 AM, Home Guy wrote:

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/11/11/huge-explosion-in-indianapolis-still-a-mystery-18-hours-later /
http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/121111-indyexplosion-hmed-11a.photoblog600.jpg
I'd go with a gas leak, though it doesn't necessarily have to be related to a faulty appliance. The city of St. Paul discovered the hard way that many of the gas lines run by the gas company had crossed through existing sewer lines. Eventually, some houses blew up as a result. Apparently the new technology used over the past few decades by the gas company meant they could run lines without trenching, but since they didn't see what they were doing, they could inadvertently bore right through existing structures. Which they did, and in some cases that eventually meant - kaboom.
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On 11/12/2012 8:30 AM, Home Guy wrote:

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/11/11/huge-explosion-in-indianapolis-still-a-mystery-18-hours-later /
http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/121111-indyexplosion-hmed-11a.photoblog600.jpg
Defective gas heater manufactured in Canada is my guess. ^_^
TDD
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http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/11/11/huge-explosion-in-indianapolis-still-a-mystery-18-hours-later /
http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/121111-indyexplosion-hmed-11a.photoblog600.jpg
Natural gas will only explode within a narrow range of concentration, plus it is lighter than air and will drift upwards. It also is a "soft" explosion, compared to commercial explosives that have a "hard" explosion, investigators can identify the difference.
In the Toronto, Canada area, we have had a couple of natural gas explosions over the past decade, at first faulty equipment or leaks were blamed. But after investigating, it was determined, every one was deliberately set by loosening a union or cutting a pipe, either for insurance or to kill someone.
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On Mon, 12 Nov 2012 12:07:54 -0500, "EXT"

I think a large number of pet gerbils and guinea pigs were producing a lot of methane which exploded with intensity 8 on the Ginko scale.
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..

There has been quite a few natural gas explosions in the UK have leveled buildings. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18600446
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Is the result of Willard, Limbaugh, & other republicans when they are in same place @ the same time. Talk about massive buildup of natural gas!
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Home Guy wrote:

You've obviously put some thought into the possible causes. I discount natural gas in that a two-story house full of natural gas simply can't make that big of an explosion.
My conjecture centers around one of three possibilities:
1. The occupants were making a really big batch of meth - or had the ingredients for a really big batch of meth - while simultaneously high on meth (likely).*
2. The persons responsible had a tremendous pile of explosives in anticipation of a New Year's display (unlikely).
3. Some people collect stamps, others gather canned goods in anticipation of a disaster. These people, well, who knows?
The level of destruction is indicative of a high explosive (dynamite, C4, TNT, etc.), not some ordinary substance, such as gasoline or natural gas, that can go "fizzle-fizzle-pop" if not handled correctly
Whatever the cause, it will be easily determined. ALL explosives leave sufficient residue behind to identify themselves.
Aside: I am a "graduate" of the ATF Introductory Bomb School for police officers. In our week long training, we saw a lot of pictures and films of bomb damage. None of what we saw was remotely as violent or destructive as what happened in Philly.
-------- * Ingredients for the manufacture of methamphetimine include: - Alcohol - Ether - Benzene - Paint thinner - Acetone - Camp stove fuel - Red phosphorous - Metallic sodium (doesn't explode but will generate hydrogen when exposed to water) - Iodine crystals - Phenylacetone (Phenyl-2-Propanone)
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I'll have to disagree. I have seen natural explosions do as much damage, even if it wasn't a pipeline (which seems likely).

That has been ruled out. Even with Meth I can't see that big of an explosion.

Well we did have fireworks bans in Indy on July 4th...

I worked a few natural gas explosions in the 70s and this is consistent with what we saw.

I graduated from the investigations course at the National Fire Academy and a week long explosives investigations course at the Redstone arsenal, albeit in the late 70s and early 80s, and this is consistent with what we deatl in addition to personal experience over 10 years.
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wrote:

Sees as though the home owners were not at home. They went to a hotel because the furnace was broken. In spite of all the safeguards built into gas appliances, someone could have broken a connection and allowed a large quantity of gas to leak into the house.
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On 11/12/2012 9:54 PM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

I have a customer, a little old gal about 90 years old who me and my late friend GB repaired things for. One day I went by to repair her furnace and some idiot from another service company had bypassed the flame rollout safety switch. The result was a burned up wiring harness and she was lucky the house didn't catch fire. It was a PITA to repair and simple to fix the original problem. She's safe now and I went by to fix something else for her last week. O_o
TDD
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The article I read had the home *owner* was the estranged husband who lived in another state. Wife, boyfriend, and daughter lived in the house. [but no-one home]
House had been on the market for an extended amount of time, but had recently been taken off.
That might be why the authorities aren't making any guesses.
Jim
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It doesn't take much gas to level a house.
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Kurt Ullman wrote:

I stand corrected. After looking at contemporary pictures of NG explosions, I agree with you.
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The part that fascinates me is the debris field looks like it went mostly out the front of the house and the scorched areas went almost entirely side to side. The fire was also very low as you can tell by the fact the houses next to the source are the sides of the V.
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On 11/13/2012 6:16 AM, Kurt Ullman wrote:

I recall something about a fellow leaving a barbeque grill propane tank leaking by accident or purposely at a house and when the heavier than air propane reached the pilot light in some gas appliance, the house blew up like the one in the pictures. It happened back in the last century so I don't recall the what/when/where but I seem to remember a suspicion of revenge involved in da big boom. O_o
TDD
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Kurt Ullman wrote:

Natural gas is heavier than air and it concentrates near the floor level. One characteristic of NG explosions is that the walls are punched outward from the bottom.
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On 11/13/2012 12:57 PM, HeyBub wrote: ...

...
Wrong.
That would be propane/butane but not natural gas (which is generally 90% or thereabouts methane).
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wrote:

You must be thinking of propane.
Natural gas has a relative density range of .58 - .72. Air is considered to be 1.0.
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No, it's not, and no, it doesn't. Natural gas is just slightly more than *half* as dense as air.

Nonsense.
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