Cause of Athens blast re­mains un­known

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Marc Ko­vac mko­vac@dis­patch.com @OhioCap­i­talBlog

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.

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