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Fire-pit construction above damaged gas line causes explosion, house fire injuring 5

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A Friday morning explosion and house fire that injured five people, two of them seriously, was caused by the construction of an in-ground fire pit this week, the Wayne Township Fire Department said Friday afternoon.

Crews were called about 8:30 a.m. Friday to a house fire in the 500 block of North Rybolt Avenue. Firefighters arrived to find a house fully engulfed in flames in a residential area just off West Washington Street where it veers north and becomes Cossell Road on the west side.

Five people were injured, and four of them taken to a hospital, the department said. The fifth person refused medical treatment at the fire scene.

Investigators on Friday afternoon said that the fire pit was constructed above a natural gas line that went to the house. An excavation showed the line below the fire pit was damaged.

Robin Vancleave, a neighbor, saw what happened and jumped into action.

“Me and my husband was in bed. We heard a loud explosion. We look out and we notice the whole house was in flames,” said Vancleave. “I come running out of bed and we get to hear. A young lady was sitting right here. All of this was laying on top of her. I had to drag her out. She couldn’t move. She had blood and skin coming off her hands and arms. She lost all of her hair. I threw her on my back and turned and took her to the house across the street and put her on the porch. I got a blanket and put it on her and we had to wait for the police and ambulance to get here.”

Down the street, Wanda Harris knows the people that lived in the house.

“I came outside and my neighbor, she was standing here, and she says, ‘One of the house is gone! The house is gone!’ I went down there and the house was blazing! Fireman tried to save it, but they couldn’t save it,” explained Harris.

Other neighbors said a gas company checked nearby homes and placed flags in the yards.

Dog, cat sent to clinic with injuries; donations sought for their medical treatment

A dog and a cat caught in Friday morning’s fire on North Rybolt Avenue are in the intensive care unit of an Indianapolis veterinary clinic, said a news release from the city government’s Animal Care Services.

The animals were being treated for burns, matting and smoke inhalation.

Indy Companion Animal Resources, Education, and Support is paying for the medical treatment of the animals at Noah’s Westside Animal Hospital. Donations toward the dog and cat’s care can be made online.