Investigator: Deadly Kettering house explosion left behind ‘ton of evidence’


The investigation into what caused a Kettering house to explode early Tuesday morning, killing a 58-year-old woman, may take several months and may involve multiple parties.

Kettering emergency personnel were called to the North Claridge Drive home shortly after 4:30 a.m. and encountered massive flames shooting into the sky in the suburban neighborhood.

RELATED >>> Dash-cam video from police cruiser shows moments after Kettering house explosion

The resident, Darlene Baumgardner, who was found in a neighbor’s yard when crews arrived, died of multiple blunt-force trauma and thermal injuries, according to the preliminary findings by the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.

Scott Bennett, former Dayton fire investigator and president of the International Association of Arson Investigators, has been hired by a law firm to investigate the explosion.

Bennett was at the site on Wednesday for a visual inspection. 

He said the “hands-on” part of the investigation will happen at a later date after all interested parties are identified, and the investigation will likely take several months to finish.

Bennett said in incidents like this, several people will seek to conduct their own investigation, including the victim’s family, the home insurance provider, neighbors, utilities companies and the manufacturers of the gas-fed appliances in the home.

MORE >>> Victim in Kettering house explosion, fire identified

The next phase of the investigation will be to identify who will have a potential interest in determining what happened, then those parties will meet at the site for the hands-on portion, which involves testing the home’s appliances and natural gas lines to determine if there were any leaks, he said.

The idea is to get everyone there at the same time to “level the playing field,” Bennett said. 

Despite the utter destruction of the home, Bennett said there’s still “a ton of evidence to look at.”

Any pipe fitting or appliance that appears to have a leak will be sent to a laboratory for further testing. That testing will include x-rays and viewing the pieces under a microscope.

Bennett said metallurgists can see a fracture in a pipe and determine if it’s a new fracture or an old one.

Those interested parties may include the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

If a gas leak is linked to the cause of the explosion, PUCO may be obligated to launch an investigation, said PUCO Spokesman Matt Schilling.

MORE >>> Fairgrounds store’s future uncertain, liquidation sale underway

“If the gas utility appears to be involved, as state regulators of gas pipeline safety, we would get involved,” Schilling said. 

Schilling said PUCO investigates to determine that state and federal gas pipeline safety standards were followed and to determine if there were any contributing factors. 

If the source of the leak is determined to be inside the home, Schilling said PUCO would not be involved in the investigation because it wouldn’t involve the “utilities infrastructure.” 


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Judge tours Dayton building where he halts order to vacate, declares it habitable
Judge tours Dayton building where he halts order to vacate, declares it habitable

Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Richard Skelton declared the Newcom building habitable on Tuesday night, hours after issuing a TRO blocking a city of Dayton emergency order to vacate because of carbon monoxide coming from the building's boiler. Skelton toured the building, 255 N. Main St., for a third time since Friday. In his courtroom earlier...
Changes promised in wake of racially insensitive basketball jerseys incident
Changes promised in wake of racially insensitive basketball jerseys incident

Changes are being promised for Kings Schools in the wake of last week’s racist incident that drew national attention, but Tuesday evening district officials said details about those changes will come later. That was the message from Kings’ leader and school board members, who took the resignation of their board vice president in the wake...
Georgia man who set ex-girlfriend on fire sentenced to life in prison
Georgia man who set ex-girlfriend on fire sentenced to life in prison

A Georgia man who poured gasoline on his ex-girlfriend and set her on fire was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility for parole, according to the Clayton County District Attorney’s office.  Mervin Woodard, 40, was found guilty of multiple felonies in the 2016 crime, which left Melita Curtis in a coma for two weeks. Curtis was...
Fireplace embers ignite house fire on Kensington Drive in Dayton
Fireplace embers ignite house fire on Kensington Drive in Dayton

UPDATE @ 10:49 p.m.: Burning embers that jumped from the fireplace onto something combustible led to the house fire on Kensington Drive, Dayton Fire Battalion Chief Barry Rose said.  The resident started the fire and then left the house. He was not injured, Rose said.  Rose estimated the damage to the structure and contents at $10,000. Crews...
Dayton school board quiet on Corr, task force issue
Dayton school board quiet on Corr, task force issue

Dayton’s newly seated school board on Tuesday hired a security director and moved to appraise several properties that could be for sale, but there was little discussion of two big issues facing the district. Rhonda Corr update Beverly Meyer, the attorney whose report was key to Superintendent Rhonda Corr being placed on paid leave, met with school...
More Stories