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Cigarette is cause of Ohio natural gas explosion

Stacy Millberg | The Star Beacon (Ashtabula, Ohio)

ORWELL TOWNSHIP — Investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Office have determined a cigarette triggered the explosion that killed a woman on Montgomery Road Wednesday.

Michael Duchesne, assistant director of communication for the Ohio Department of Commerce said, a water well on the property was emptied from an appliance that was running all day. Once the well emptied, it filled with natural gas from the ground.

“The gas entered the home through the plumbing and when the cigarette was lit, it caused the explosion,” he said.

Officials have not released the name of the 27-year-old female who was killed in the blast. DNA testing is being conducted in Cuyahoga County and could take several weeks before results are available, said Tom Dispenes, Ashtabula County Coroner’s Office investigator.

Jaimes Ortiz, 23, was seriously injured, suffering second- and third-degree burns. He was flown by medical helicopter to a Cleveland hospital for treatment. His condition is unknown.

The blast, which is said to have been felt for miles, leveled the home, located at 4033 Montgomery Road. The explosion was reported at about 6:45 p.m. Multiple fire departments responded as well as the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Ashtabula County Coroner’s Office and the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

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