Cause of apartment explosion unlikely for days

(Provided Photo/IFD)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The cause of an explosion that injured six people at an Indianapolis apartment Thursday night isn’t likely for days, Indianapolis Fire Department officials said Friday morning.

Four people taken to IU Health Methodist Hospital were released as of Friday morning. Two Marian University students who suffered more serious injuries were still hospitalized in the burn unit at Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital Friday morning. They were upgraded to good condition Friday afternoon. Both are student athletes, one is a football player the other a competitive cyclist.

Marian University said four of the six people injured Thursday night were their students.

In all, 23 residents were displaced Thursday night. IFD officials said Friday that once utilities were restored, all but 12 residents would be able to return. The other 12 residents had significant damage to their apartments or live in what is being called the collapse zone.

IFD and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department have been limited in their ability to investigate due to the instability of the structure. Pangea Riverside Apartments was working with a structural engineer to get the building safe for investigators. Citizens Energy reported no readings of gas in the area following the blast. IFD, IMPD, the apartment complex, utility companies and insurance companies will work together to determine the cause of the explosion, but no additional details on the cause were expected until Monday at the earliest.

Citizen’s Gas says it is confident there was no leak outside the apartments. Crews conducted tests Thursday night and Friday morning and found no evidence of any leaks. Still, there could have been a problem inside the individual apartments. But there is no way of knowing at this point.

Some residents inside the complex still are worried that a similar explosion could happen again, saying they aren’t getting many answers from the apartment management.

“No one’s come out here to check our units or anything. So a lot of us are questioning are we safe?” said resident Jasmine Carter.

Carter heard the explosion Thursday night, and then saw the chaotic aftermath outside her apartment.

“The whole house was just dismantled. It just looked like a prop. It didn’t even look like a real apartment anymore,” said Carter.

Another resident, Yolanda Williams, told 24-Hour News 8 the complex plans on tearing the building down. Williams says she was given the option to move away, or move into a different unit inside the complex.

As other neighbors started to return home after work Friday, they said they were thinking of the two victims who remained in the hospital.

“We’re praying for them,” said Teresa Clay.

Clay said she wasn’t sure if she would go to work Friday. She lives in the complex, and says this has been traumatizing for the entire community.

“It’s been a rough day. It was just really emotional last night,” she added.

She recounted the night, after hearing the explosion outside.

“As I ran toward the window, I looked out and I saw these college-age kids that had burns, were bleeding, and they basically collapsed right in front of my grass there,” said Clay.

Clay says she and her neighbor went into rescue mode: grabbing blankets and first aid supplies.

“We were on the phone, calling to the kids’ parents, trying to help them as much as we could, you know they were in a lot of pain,” she added.

Even after the initial shock subsided, and the victims were taken to the hospital, neighbors were left wondering.

“Everybody was kind of apprehensive about going back. Was there a gas leak? Is this safe? We stayed out probably around 2 in the morning or so, just trying to make sense of it,” she said.

Clay says she hasn’t heard anything from the apartment complex.

“I’m waiting to see, and I can’t wait to hear, as a resident and as a community member – what’s going on? Is it safe to even be here?”

Neighbors said they did smell something like gas Thursday night, but hadn’t smelled that before. They said the two students had just moved into their apartment a couple weeks ago.

Friday afternoon, the two Marian students, a 19 and 20-year-old, on the football and cycling team, were upgraded to good condition.

24-Hour News 8 reached out to Pangea Riverside Apartment management, but no one returned our calls.

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