Woman dead, man seriously injured in home explosion in Orwell Ohio; well on property with chronic leaking natural gas problems

I told him to turn the pump off, I can’t talk .. I told him turn the pump off.

He said, “It’s been running all day.”

I said, “Well, you’re going to have to wait to get water.”

I didn’t even think about the gas in the well. It must have filled the house up….

It shouldn’t have happened. Mum asked for help for how many years.

There’s nothing left of the house. My son pulled him out. That’s the only reason….

Devastating home explosion by Hilary Golston and WKYC Staff, july 17, 2014, WKYC
ORWELL TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office received a call around 6:45 p.m. Thursday that a house exploded at 4033 Montgomery Road in Orwell Township. That’s about 40 miles east of Cleveland.

The Ohio Highway Patrol says a 27-year-old woman was killed and one man was injured. She was in the kitchen at the time of the explosion. The coroner has not yet released her official cause of death.

A man, who family identified as James Ortis, was upstairs when the explosion occurred. Officials have not yet released the names of either victim.

State troopers tell WKYC Ortis smelled gas when entering the home. The man reportedly may have lit a cigarette, which may have sparked the explosion. However, the investigation is ongoing. Troopers also say Ortis suffered second and third degree burns. His uncle, Mike Friend, reports Ortis is in his early to mid-twenties. Friend says his son, Ortis’s cousin, reportedly pulled the young man from the rubble after the explosion.

Friend told WKYC’s Hilary Golston he had spoken with James before the explosion happened. “I told him to stop. I told him to turn the pump off,”

“I didn’t think about the gas in the well.”

The coroner, Ohio Highway Patrol, State Fire Marshal and several fire departments were on scene helping to secure the scene and gather information.

The explosion appears to have resulted from a gas leak, that had “infiltrated” the water system, Sgt Brian Cumberledge, of the Ashtabula Sheriff’s Office, tells Channel 3’s Hilary Golston.

When asked what sparked the fire, Sgt. Cumberledge responded “We still need to talk with some of the people. One of which is the surviving victim.”

Cumberledge also says the smell of gas had been present in the house for some time.

Family also told Golston they’ve had the issue of natural gas seeping into the water for a while. One woman, who did not want to go on camera, said the water could actually be lit on fire at times before the incident.

Only two people were in the home at the time of the explosion. Troopers say the deceased woman was in the downstairs area of the kitchen when the house exploded.

Cumberledge says he had never seen a house leveled like this before in the county.

Robert McElroy helped coax the family dog off the property, after she had been spooked by the noise. He says the couple had been together for a long time, but were not engaged. “They’d been together for a long time and he loved her to death,” McElroy told Golston, choking back tears. “We was all real close. He almost was like a boy to me.”

Ortis was taken by LifeFlight to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. [Emphasis added]

Investigation to continue at site of house explosion by Stacey Frey, July 17, 2014
ORWELL, Ohio — Investigators were expected to return to the scene of a house explosion Thursday.The accident killed a 27-year-old woman and critically injured her boyfriend. …

There is a well on the property and natural gas would sometimes seep into the water system. Around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, the man who lived there lit a cigarette and the house blew.The man was flown to MetroHealth Medical Center.  He remained in critical condition at the time of this report.People who live in the area report that they felt the blast five miles away.

Woman dead, man seriously injured in house explosion in Orwell by Kara Sutyak, Peggy Sinkovich and Kevin Freeman, July 16, 2014, Fox8 Cleveland

2014 07 17 Ohio Home Explosion kills 27 year old woman, critically injures boyfriend, home completely destroyed2014 07 17 Ohio Home Explosion kills 27 year old woman, critically injures boyfriend2014 07 17 Ohio Home Explosion kills 27 year old woman, critically injures boyfriend, dog survives2014 07 17 Ohio Home Explosion kills 27 year old woman, critically injures boyfriend, dog left behind

The couple’s dog the day after the explosion

[Refer also to:

[Dr. Maurice Dusseault’s report] concluded that the risks of leaky wellbores “are not great as shown by years of experience” and that the environmental consequences of seepage of natural gas in aquifers “are not catastrophic, albeit undesirable.” ]

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