Damage from Elyria home explosion continues

ELYRIA - For hours, in the cold and in the pouring rain Saturday, family members worked to salvage whatever they could from the rubble that was once their Columbia Avenue home in Elyria.

Their home was demolished just days away from the Christmas holiday and all due to the Friday night home explosion that shook the city of Elyria and reverberated as far as Avon and North Ridgeville.

"One family is stunned, the other family is, hasn't slept.  They haven't even digested, I mean one minute you're watching TV, the next minute your house is coming down," said Kevin Brubaker. 

Unfortunately, the Senior Manager for the City of Elyria's Building Department was not exaggerating.  The family inside that home couldn't even remove all of their belongings before the home was torn down.  NewsChannel 5 was told it was too unsafe for them to enter the upper levels of the house.

"The whole west side of the property was gone. The second floor had already collapsed and the back north west corner of the house had started to cave in and we were concerned if we moved that debris field prior to taking that down that the house could shift and come down on its own," said Brubaker.

After hearing a second home was destroyed, a few neighbors passed by Columbia Avenue once more, shocked at the devastation that continues to unfold there.

"It's just unreal," said Dawn Hatcher.  Hatcher said she heard the explosion Friday night.  "Just a really loud boom," she described, "like nothing we've ever heard before and I'm four streets away"

"It's unbelievable that devastation that can happen in just a split second, your life can be changed within a moment and right before Christmas so my heart goes out to everybody involved for sure," said Debbie Millis.

The home two houses two the left will also need to be demolished.  Saturday the homeowners spent much of the day removing items as well.

The Elyria Fire Chief said a natural gas leak is believed to be the cause of the Friday night home explosion.  The house was said to be vacant and that the gas was turned on Friday.  Neighbors said they smelled a possible leak and reported it to their gas company, but the leak was never found.  Calls out to Columbia Gas Saturday were not returned.

An investigation still continues on the 100 Block of Columbia Avenue. 

Any residents who may have also experienced damage to their properties are being advised to contact both the Elyria Building Department and their insurance company for an inspection. 

Brubaker said officials working on a way to help the two families displaced and told NewsChannel 5 anyone interested in doing so, for now, can contact the Elyria Safety Service Director's Office at: (440) 326-1404 or click here.

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