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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | WEST COUNTY / OXNARD

Gas Leak to Blame for House Explosion

September 30, 1998|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT

An explosion that destroyed an unoccupied house was caused by an indoor natural gas line valve that was purposely left open, fire officials said Tuesday.

The explosion occurred about 1 a.m. Monday at 3149 South L St. when the gas was ignited by a wall heater's pilot light, Oxnard Fire Chief Terry McAnally said.

The valve that was left open was not hooked to an appliance but had previously been used for a water heater or clothes dryer, McAnally said. At the time of the blast, the house was being refurbished and had gas service.

Oxnard Fire Inspector Dan Gildea determined the house had been broken into earlier and that the indoor valve was purposely left in the "on" position, McAnally said.

"I hope we catch him or her or they or whoever is responsible, because this was done on purpose," McAnally said.

Glass from a shattered back door window was found inside the home while glass from windows throughout the rest of the house was found outside, McAnally said.

Gas service to the house had been activated last week. "The gas company would never turn the main gas on without checking" the inside valves, McAnally said.

The force of the explosion inside the single-story, three-bedroom house separated walls from the foundation and flung glass into the street about 50 yards away.

Damage to the home and contents was estimated at about $185,000. City officials have condemned the structure.

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