What does it take to turn a 2,700-square-foot home into a bomb large enough to flatten two other houses, pummel dozens more, rattle dishes for miles and set off earthquake sensors 30 miles away?
According explosives experts: 90 pounds of natural gas, a lack of ventilation and an ignition source . . .
The experts The Star spoke to said it’s extremely rare for a gas explosion that huge to occur inside a home, but it’s entirely possible . . .
“The perfect storm you might say,” says Paul Worsey, an explosives engineering professor at Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Worsey said to fill a 2,700-square-foot home you’d need around 90 pounds of fuel — about as much as a tank of gas in a car . . .
We know that nobody reported smelling gas prior to the explosion, which Worsey indicates would have been difficult not to notice if that much gas had built up in the home. Another expert says no smell would be detected if the source of the leak came from the ground instead of within the home, which would have acted as a natural filter. We know that Citizens Energy has tested its main lines in the area and claims it found no leaks. We also learn that Citizens Energy took a meter reading at the home as recently as October 26, and it revealed no unusual energy consumption at the home, which would indicate a leak. Citizens is now testing its supply lines to the homes in the area to determine if there were any leaks from that source.“The problem you have here is it happened in one big one all at one time,” he said.
Of course, inside the home there’d need to be an ignition source to coincide with just the right mix.
“Maybe a thermostat kicking in or something like that,” Worsey said.
But how did that much gas get into the home without anyone noticing the fuel’s foul smell?