Cleveland, Ohio, to Raze Buildings Near Site of Home Explosion

January 27, 2010

A city official says Cleveland, Ohio, will move quickly to demolish residences that have been made unsafe by an explosion that completely destroyed a vacant house.

Two nearby buildings caught fire as a result of the blast. City Councilman Matt Zone says the home next door and a small, brick apartment building must come down because of severe structural damage from the Jan. 25 explosion.

Fire department spokesman Larry Gray says four people who were near the house that blew up were taken to hospitals with injuries not considered life-threatening.

Windows were shattered in at least 11 houses across the street, and structures as far as two blocks away were damaged, according to fire department spokesman Larry Gray.

Neighbors say the house had been vacant for two years. In recent days, neighbors had complained about a natural gas smell coming from the house.

Gray says authorities suspect, but have not confirmed, a gas leak.

Neighbor Bill Calberwood said he was walking his dog when he heard and felt the blast just after 3 p.m. Calberwood said he called the Dominion East Ohio Gas Co. recently to complain about an odor of natural gas coming from the house.

Councilman Zone said the house has been a problem property and the city has been trying to get it condemned. A gas company employee went to the house Jan. 22 but apparently could not find the shut-off valve, Zone said.

County auditor’s records show the two-story Colonial with a gabled roof was built more than 100 years ago. Records list it in fair condition.

James and Irene Garman sold the home in December 2008 for $13,500 to EZ Access Funding LLC, records show.

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