Cause of Athens blast remains unknown
Investigators were trying to determine what caused an explosion in Athens on Sunday that injured one man and left a bike shop and seven offcampus apartments near Ohio University unsafe for entrance.
The blast happened about 5:15 p.m. in the 100 block of West Union Street. Ron Lucas, deputy service-safety director for the city, said there was no resulting fire, but the roof collapsed and other structural damage occurred.
“A significant chunk of the building was affected,” he said. “There was a lot of smoke, but there was no active fire that the fire department was able to locate.”
One man was rescued from the roof of a neighboring business and taken to OhioHealth O’Bleness Memorial Hospital, Lucas said. His name and condition had not been released as of early Monday afternoon.
There were no other injuries, but more than a dozen residents had to find temporary housing as a result of the explosion. Ohio University is offering food, clothing and emergency shelter to students among those displaced.
Cycle Path Bicycle, located at street level beneath the apartments affected by the blast, and Thai Paradise restaurant also were forced to close until the building could be assessed.
Between 25 to 50 percent of the structure was affected by the explosion and it would be up to the insurance company to determine the extent of loss, said Athens Fire Chief Robert Rymer. The building was built around 1921, Rymer said.
Kelly Stincer, spokeswoman for the State Fire Marshal’s Office, said a cause of the explosion had not yet been identified, and an investigation was ongoing, but no crime is suspected.