Neighbors near explosion smelled gas; Vectren received no calls

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Investigators work another day gathering evidence to determine the cause of Monday’s explosion in a Dayton neighborhood.

It could take weeks before they have an answer, but in the meantime, 2 NEWS asked Vectren Energy about the natural gas explosion and how customers can be proactive.

Methyl Mercaptan is a harmless chemical found in natural gas and it’s known to have a distinctive smell, often described by most as rotten eggs.

Despite being hard to miss, Vectren noted that some still ignore the signs and smells of gas.

Monday, several neighbors told 2 NEWS they could smell gas that morning and in weeks past.

“I heard people tell me they smelled the gas at 6:00, 7:45 in the morning. Somebody else smelled it at 3:00 a.m or 4:00 a.m., never dialed a number,” said Roy Miller, a neighbor and victim of the blast.

Vectren confirmed that no calls were made and the company believes that’s a problem.

‘I don’t know. We certainly would not want them to be hesitant, uh there is no charge if we come out, whether there is a gas leak or not. If you smell gas, we want you to call us. We treat it as an emergency,” said Vectren Ohio President Colleen Ryan when asked why she thinks people are reluctant to call.

Not calling can stop authorities from preventing the dangers of something like Monday’s explosion.

Dayton’s Assistant Fire Chief Michael Caudill said in most cases there’s a narrow range from 5 percent to 14 percent for a natural gas explosion.

However, regardless of that fact, officials believe that’s no excuse to ignore the signs.

Vectren said the vacant home didn’t have a record of work orders, although the company was set to replace a meter on Monday.

As for the more than 7,000 other vacant homes around Dayton, the company said gas lines shouldn’t be an issue for nearby neighbors of these types of homes.

“If the home is not, is vacant and the owner is not paying the bills than that gas would be shut off and we could come out and shut off the service to that home, as long the owner is paying the bills then gas service is going to be to that house,” said Ryan.

Fire department confirmed however, that the home in Monday’s explosion was recently vacated and did have the gas on.

Authorities are looking into copper scrapping as foul play and the possible reason for this natural gas explosion.

Vectren’s spokeswoman said that copper scrapping isn’t a common factor in a natural gas explosion and the company will wait on the investigation for the final say.

Meanwhile, if you smell gas, officials want you to take action, call 9-1-1 or Vectren at 1-800-227-1376.

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