Investigators: Gas leak sparked deadly Bath explosion

7:31 PM, Feb 13, 2013   |    comments
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BATH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The state Fire Marshal says it was a leak in a propane gas line that caused that deadly explosion Tuesday in Bath. 

The investigation showed it was a propane line from an outdoor tank leading to heating units inside the two apartments.  

This announcement came a few hours before the State Medical Examiner officially released the identity of the woman who died in the explosion. She has been identified as 65 year old Dale Fussel.

As for the cause, firefighters and the state fire investigators suspected propane from the start because of the size of the explosion. They say gas leaked into the exterior wall, then into the crawl space underneath the duplex. At that point, any sort of spark could have set off the explosion. 

That explosion blew the one story duplex building apart and damaged two other nearby apartments. 

People in the 142-unit Atlantic Townhouses development were still looking over the damage Wednesday, while a steady parade of cars and trucks drove by the scene of the explosion to see the damage. 

One survivor of the explosion is still in the hospital.  

The woman neighbors call "Mom" or "Mumma" lived right next door to the building that blew up. Two men ran across the street and rescued her after the blast. She told NEWS CENTER that the explosion blew her front door apart, exposing her home to the fire. She said she feels "lucky to be alive".

Meanwhile, Bath Fire Chief Steve Hinds says residents of the 142-unit apartment complex should feel reassured about their safety, after an all-night inspection of the entire propane system for the complex. He says a team of propane technicians and firefighters tested each tank and heater for leaks and made sure the systems are safe. Now the city's code enforcement office has started examining the damaged apartments to make sure they will be safe . 

CEO Scott Davis says it will take some time, and they will examine the structure of those buildings as well as all the electrical, plumbing, heating and other systems inside. Once he declares those buildings safe, Davis says repairs can begin.

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