Gas meter damaged before George Street explosion, fire official says

Fire official: Gas meter damaged before George Street explosion

The subletter at the house at George Street that exploded in November 2018 claims he reconnected the gas to the residence minutes before the blast.

Vectren reportedly cut off the gas to the house 12 days before the explosion, but Gary Steinmetz of Dayton, told News Center 7’s John Bedell that on Nov. 29 he turned the gas back on.

He supposedly went into the basement to relight the pilot light on the furnace, came upstairs and opened the front bedroom door -- the one next to the gas meter -- reportedly causing the explosion.

"I opened up that bedroom door, and I guess the backdraft pulling that door open just…boom," Steinmetz said.

"I'm blessed,” Steinmetz said. “Somebody was watching over me for sure. I mean, I shouldn't be here talking about it."

His bandages were a marker of the 34 days he spent in the hospital.

"I've got third- and fourth-degree burns. (The explosion) blew my right ear off. Extensive skin grafts. It burnt my arms up real bad," Steinmetz said.

On scene, Dayton fire discovered that the gas meter was damaged.

Steinmetz told Bedell he did not damage the meter and is unaware how it got damaged.

Scott Jacobs, Dayton Fire Department Fire Inspector, is still working on the final report of the fire and investigating who damaged the gas meter.

UPDATE @ 3:23 p.m. (Nov. 30, 2018) :

According to Scott Jacobs, Dayton Fire Department Fire Inspector,  the gas line at the George Street residence that exploded Thursday was turned off a day before and never turned on again by Vecten. 

Jacobs also states that when crews arrived on scene Thursday, the gas was turned back on and the meter was damaged. 

The investigation is still pending and authorities hope to have more information in the near future. 

EARLIER REPORT: 

One of the occupants who was inside of a home when it exploded Thursday morning is in serious condition, according to Dayton East District Fire Chief Rennes Bowers.

PHOTOS: Dayton home explodes injuring 1

Officials responded to the 40 block of George Street on a reported house fire just after 1 a.m. When crews arrived, they found the front of the house had collapsed from a gas explosion.

Heavy smoke and flames were also coming from the structure, which fire officials say was gas fed.

“The victim stated he was trying to light a pilot light,” Bowers said. 

The landlord for the property said the people staying at the house when the explosion happened had been staying at the home without his knowledge. 

The authorized tenant of the property had been subletting the property to the group who was staying at the house at the time of the explosion, the landlord said.

Once the landlord was aware, he started a process to have the group removed and said they were ordered to be out of the house by Dec. 1.

The authorized tenant moved out of the house Tuesday.  Gas and water were turned off Tuesday and DP&L was scheduled to cut the power to the house today.

In a 911 call obtained by this news organization, the caller told dispatchers her fiance was reportedly attempting to light a gas burner. 

>> Evidence collected at site of fatal Kettering house explosion

“He lit the pilot light and it blew up. He got caught on fire, my fiance,” the woman said. 

Officials responded to the 40 block of George Street on a reported house fire just after 1 a.m. on November 29, 2018.
Photo: Marshall Gorby

Firefighters were instructed not to enter the home that exploded due to the intensity of the flames, which spread to a neighboring home.

There were several occupants inside both homes, all who were able to escape. 

The burned victim was taken to Miami Valley Hospital. No other injuries were reported.

Due to the extent of the home’s damage, the home that exploded will have to be torn down, officials said.

The neighboring home suffered minor roof damage and the occupants will not be able to stay there tonight.

Vectren and Dayton Power and Lights personnel were called to aid fire officials in eliminating hazards by cutting the gas and electricity. 

No firefighters were injured.

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