The on-site investigation is complete into what caused a December 2017 fatal house fire in Kettering, and now appliances and fixtures asssociated with the natural gas system at the home will undergo testing in a laboratory.
A fence surrounds the debris left on North Claridge Drive where the home exploded in the early morning hours of Dec. 5, killing the resident, 58-year-old Darlene Baumgardner.
Numerous interested parties joined police and fire officials on-site Tuesday to collect evidence, and two full semitrailers hauled away mangled appliances, including the water heater, a furnace and gas piping.
The final results and conclusions from the investigation may still be six months away, according to Scott Bennett, the lead investigator with Dayton-based Fire and Explosion Consultants LLC.
“All of the items that were removed have been packaged and transported to our laboratory,” Bennett said. “We will then conduct a forensic examination of each item that was removed. That includes leak testing, pressure testing, X-rays, CAT scans and may involve metallurgists.”
Those who were part of the on-site investigation included experts and attorneys representing Baumgardner’s family and estate, appliance manufactuers and the makers of gas regulators, Bennett said.
“Every gas appliance will be looked at in a more controlled setting and not at an explosion site,” Bennett said. “Hopefully we will find out where the gas leak came from. That’s the ultimate goal here. We don’t want to guess at it when there’s a fatality. We want to get this right and it takes time to get it right.”
Baumgardner was found in critical condition in a neighbor’s yard when crews arrived on scene. She died of multiple blunt-force truama and thermal injuries a short time later, according to the coroner’s office.
Neighbor Kyle Moore said they would like to know why it happened.
“I think it’s just been four months,” Moore said. “We want to know what happened so we can move on.”