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Suicide Blast Hurts 10, Wrecks Homes

January 02, 1986|Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. — A man who disconnected a gas pipe to commit suicide triggered an explosion that destroyed his home and damaged dozens of others Wednesday, killing him and injuring at least 10 people, authorities said.

The blast blew out windows and ignited fires in houses on either side of the structure and shifted nearby houses on their foundations. It cracked walls in houses as far as three blocks away.

The death of the man, who was not identified, was being called an apparent suicide, Fire Bureau spokesman Don Mayer said. The victim apparently disconnected the gas meter from a one-inch pipe in his basement, allowing natural gas to leak into the structure, Mayer said.

"We don't know how he ignited it," Mayer said. "We probably never will know."

Mayer said "probably 30 to 40" houses were damaged. The neighborhood was without electricity, and its natural gas supply was cut off until at least this morning, he said. The injuries were believed to be minor.

The Red Cross was helping residents to find temporary shelter. Clothing from the house that exploded was hanging from trees about 100 feet from the blast site.

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