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Police body camera footage released from Evansville explosion

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — New police officer body camera footage shows the chaotic scene minutes after the deadly home explosion in Evansville. 

The video from Evansville Police Officer Josh Doane shows the aftermath of debris scattered on the roads and houses, as officers tried to rescue people from the area last Wednesday. The blast killed three people, injured a fourth, and damaged 39 homes.

The explosion sent wooden boards, window glass, and insulation flying across over a 100-foot (30-meter) radius.

The video shows officers had trouble getting inside some of the homes after the blast and footage shows the utter destruction to the area. Currently, 11 homes are uninhabitable.

On Monday, the Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office released the preliminary autopsy results for the three victims. It said the married couple who lived at the center of the explosion, 43-year-old Charles Hite and 37-year-old Martina Hite, both died of blunt force trauma to their chests. The coroner said the couple’s 29-year-old neighbor, Jessica Teague, died of compression asphyxia.

Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the explosion. The Evansville Fire Department said the investigation is still in its early stages and likely will be lengthy. 

Evansville authorities have declined to speculate whether natural gas or another issue is responsible for the explosion. However, the utility company, CenterPoint Energy, says there are “no indications of issues related to CenterPoint Energy’s natural gas system.”

The utility company said in a statement:

“Investigations are ongoing, but based on information obtained so far, there are no indications of issues related to CenterPoint Energy’s natural gas system. CenterPoint Energy completed several leak surveys in the surrounding areas, with all readings on the outside of the structure reporting back negative, indicating no natural gas leaks detected. Additionally, pressure readings performed on CenterPoint Energy’s natural gas lines were normal.”

“The very slow methodical process of the investigation started this morning,” EFD Division Chief Mike Larson said in a press release on Monday. “The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office is leading this investigation and the Evansville Fire Department is assisting. Several Insurance investigators have been in town and the Evansville Police Department is assisting with interviews as they are needed, along with site security.”

Suzanne Dabkowski, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, said last week that the agency can’t speak to any possible causes of the explosion. Dabkowski says the ATF has explosive specialists and firearms investigators on-site in Evansville who were helping with the investigation.