Wednesday, November 14, 2012

John Shirley's Daughter Claims She Smelled Gas On And Off For Weeks Prior To Indianapolis Explosion, But Mother Says Furnace Was Working Fine

Update December 21st: Three arrests in this case, with charges of arson and murder. Insurance fraud on steroids; see updated post HERE.

One significant development in the investigation of the November 10th explosion in the Richmond Hills neighborhood of south Indianapolis is being reported on November 14th by the Associated Press via the Anchorage Daily News. The 12-year-old daughter of John Shirley, one of the two owners of the destroyed home at 8349 Fieldfare Way, says that she smelled a strange odor off and on for weeks before the blast. It was previously reported that the girl told her father the furnace wasn't working. Randall Cable told AP that that the other co-owner, Monseratte Shirley and her boyfriend Mark Leonard speculated that what her 12-year-old daughter smelled was natural gas, but they didn't think the odor was strong enough to report. Cable also says Leonard had replaced the thermostat recently after their furnace had stopped working.

-- TheIndyChannel's special section on the explosion is available HERE.
-- WISH-TV's special section on the explosion is available HERE.
-- The Indianapolis Star has numerous stories available through this portal.

For more details about the aftermath, we go to the local Indianapolis sources. TheIndyChannel is reporting that Monseratte Shirley says she doesn't believe the furnace was the source of the problem, explaining that it worked fine after swapping out the thermostat. The Indianapolis Star, which has a flexible pay wall (limited number of free articles in a 30-day period), offers more details. Randall Cable further clarified Shirley's account of recent problems with the home's heating system. He said a couple of weeks ago, Shirley came back from a trip to a casino and the heat wouldn't turn on. Her family spent the night at a motel. Cable said the next day, she called and got estimates from local furnace-repair companies. He speculates the companies told her to first check the thermostat. Because Mark Leonard has a reputation of being a "jack of all trades" who also does home repair and roofing, he replaced the thermostat. Shirley told The Star that the heat was working fine, when they left Friday night to spend the weekend at a casino in Lawrenceburg.

Through her attorney Randall Cable, Monseratte Shirley also said her family is upset and concerned for those affected by the blast, and wants her ex-husband John Shirley to knock off the speculation and innuendo about the situation. WISH-TV reports that Shirley and her daughter are now living in a hotel, and she doubts they will ever return or rebuild their home in the Richmond Hill neighborhood. Here's a screenshot of a WISH-TV map showing the extent of the neighborhood damage:

Compare with TheIndyChannel map available HERE. The colors not only reflect access currently allowed, but also the likelihood of salvageability. See TheIndyChannel's gallery of 20 photos for examples of homes suffering significant structural damage. Any home designated by a color cannot be accessed at present by a resident without approval from authorities:

-- Red: Homes within the zone, if not already destroyed, will have to be demolished.
-- Orange: Homes within this zone suffered significant structural damage and may have to be demolished if settling continues.
-- Yellow: Homes within this zone suffered less structural damage and may be salvageable if settling does not occur.
-- Green: Homes within this zone suffered mostly cosmetic damage and are quite likely to be ruled habitable after investigation. Many of these homes have already been cleared for residents to re-enter and begin cleanup.

Gary Coons, chief of the Indianapolis Department of Homeland Security, said his investigators believe natural gas is involved, and are currently recovering the appliances from destroyed homes to help determine the cause. AdvanceIndiana tells us that investigators are specifically looking at a gas-fired fireplace in the home and the possibility the chimney vent had been closed and the gas was left on, leaking throughout the home and causing it to fill up with gas before an electrical device, such as a hot water heater or furnace inside the home automatically kicked on and triggered the explosion. Citizens Energy Group officials said inspectors found no problems with gas lines in the neighborhood or the gas lines running to individual houses, but they do not rule out the possibility of gas issues inside the affected homes. The use of the plural "homes" implies that they have not ruled out the possibility that the explosion could have originated in the adjoining home at 8355 Fieldfare Way where two people died. Both homes were the only homes completely leveled in the explosion; other homes merely suffered varying degrees of damage.







  2. I'm suspicious of the fact that two separate single-family homes were completely leveled. Under normal circumstances, while adjoining homes would be damaged, only the home where the gas leak occurred would be completely leveled.

  3. A gas explosion?
    -- admin comment - An Air Force colonel familiar with bombing runs said that this damage was equal to 4,000 pounds of military grade explosive. How do you get that much blast from a BBQ with at a max 20 pounds of fuel? Answer - Get educated in a modern public school, that graduates people who can't think.

    Absent a barbecue, you would then need a gas connection. ERROR, the utility company confirmed these houses do not have one. -

    Question - How did Miss Teary Eye's barbecue get Fema and the DHS on scene within three minutes of the blast? I know! THE SAME WAY CNN AND OTHER NEWS AGENCIES WERE AT THE MURRAH FEDERAL BUILDING BROADCASTING LIVE, ALL SET UP, THREE MINUTES AFTER IT BLEW UP!!!


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