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Updated: Sunday, 11 Nov 2012, 10:56 PM EST
Published : Sunday, 11 Nov 2012, 5:47 AM EST
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - A Greenwood teacher and her husband are the two confirmed victims in Saturday's explosion.
Family members say Dion and Jennifer Longworth, died in the explosion on the city's south side.
Jennifer Longworth was a teacher at Southwest Elementary School. A vigil was held at the school Sunday night where masses of people gathered.
Southwest Elementary School will run on a two hour delay Monday morning.
The investigation into the explosion on the south side of Indianapolis could take weeks, an official with Citizens Energy said Sunday morning.
More than a dozen homes were damaged or destroyed after a large explosion rocked a south side neighborhood late Saturday night.
The Indianapolis Fire Department says the explosion happened in the 8400 block of Fieldfare Way, which is in a subdivision just off of Sherman Drive south of Stop 11 Road.
Citizens Energy shut off gas to all the homes in the subdivision and investigated potential gas issues in the neighborhood. An official said the company had received no reports of an odor of gas in the area, and no gas leaks had been discovered as of early Sunday morning. Currently, 30 homes are without gas.
At a Sunday afternoon press conference, officials say damages are estimated at $3.6 million. Five homes are gone or need to be demolished. A total of 80 homes were affected.
Adam Collins with the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement says they have made 126 visual inspections - 80 properties suffered damage, 50 are considered to have minor damages. There are 31 homes labeled with major damages.
Residents that have been affected by the explosion are asked to call the Department of Code Enforcement at 317-327-8454.
IFD spokeswoman Bonnie Hensley says that about 200 people were taken to a shelter at Mary Bryan Elementary School. Hensley said that about 15-20 people remained overnight at the shelter and were being assisted by the American Red Cross. The rest of the residents stayed with friends or family. Officials searched each home in the area. “There were two houses that exploded; the houses on either side of them have extensive damage.”
Hensley said that a couple of the firefighters said it looked like a war zone. Officials patrolled the scene throughout the night.
Homes for over a block in each direction of the explosion are damaged.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department issued a voluntary emergency curfew for residents living in the Richmond Hill community between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The curfew went into effect Sunday night and will continue until further notice. The action taken by IMPD is for safety precautions.
Mayor Greg Ballard speaks
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard arrived on the scene to assess the situation shortly after midnight. He said the damage was widespread across the area, but residents were making the best of a tough situation.
“Most people are doing pretty good considering the circumstances," Ballard said. "There’s lots of help in there, IFD, IMPD, nurses, sheriff’s officers and pastors are in there [Mary Bryan Elementary]. IFD is checking names and creating a good database, so no one gets lost in the shuffle.”
Neighbors escape damaged homes, rescue trapped victims
Residents living near the scene recounted their experiences after the explosion. Kurt McDonald, his son and nephew lived near the exploded home and rushed to the scene to help rescue a trapped family. He spoke with WISH-TV’s Dustin Grove.
“When we heard the explosion, we went outside and it was like it was snowing, all the insulation falling down from the sky. We looked over and saw where the smoke was coming from. So we went over closer to the house, what I saw the house was just gone and a flame in the middle of the house. The house next door was caved in, and we heard people yelling. My son, nephew and I went in and got one daughter out, got another daughter out, she had a pretty big head wound. The husband was trapped under a ton of stuff and all kinds of debris, and the wife was stuck in the recliner.”
Another neighbor, who lived across the street talked to WISH-TV’s Teresa Mackin on how his family escaped their home after the explosion.
“We were in the house and glass went flying everywhere and the ceilings came down," said a neighbor at the scene. "You know we just tried to get out of there. Once we get through the night we’ll call our insurance agent. We don’t have a home, it was damaged beyond repair.”
“It’s nice to have the support of the community when these things happen. The mayor comes out is really comforting. You know, it’s going to get better.”
“I was in the area when I heard the explosion,” said Marion County Sheriff John Layton. “ I just followed the flames, along with several other IMPD officers, off-duty and retired officers were going door-to-door to clear homes…even for an old cop it was surreal.”
Few injuries reported
Fire crews with the Indianapolis Fire Department say four people have been transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Media relations with St. Francis say they have admitted one person with minor injuries into the emergency room.
One injured person reportedly drove to the hospital to be checked out.
The Indianapolis Fire Department says there is extensive damage to homes surrounding the explosion site. People in the area scattered. IndyGo buses took people to Mary Bryan Elementary where the American Red Cross set up cots, and brought food and stuffed animals to children.
Mental health counselors were called to the gymnasium of the school.
Local restaurants and residents have reached out, offering to bring food and water to the scene to help victims. Several agencies and organizations are accepting donation for the victims.
Crews from IFD, IMPD, and the Department of Homeland Security responded to this explosion.
Callers into the WISH-TV newsroom say they heard and felt the explosion from areas around Indianapolis. One caller felt the explosion from Hancock County.