Madison Township Residents Reported Gas Leaks Before Deadly Home Explosion

Nov 7, 2017

A home in Madison Township exploded early Monday morning, killing one person and seriously injuring another. According to local residents, the explosion did not come without warning.

Several gas leaks were reported in the neighborhood over the years, and residents had smelled gas in recent days. Records from the Public Utility Commission show that since late 2014, residents on Everson Road made six complaints about gas leaks to Columbia Gas of Ohio.

Vergil Downs lives across the street from 59-year-old Stewart Bell, whose home exploded on Monday. Downs says he and his neighbors filed a lot of those complaints.

“You could stand right here and you could smell the gas, when it blew this way,” Downs says. “And we called and we called. Everyone here called.”

Downs says an official from the gas company visited and the issue was reportedly fixed. In a statement, Columbia Gas said that crews inspected the area in April 2016 and found no leaks in any of the main or service lines in the area.

Then, about a month ago, the smell returned – this time coming from Stewert Bell's home.

“And Monday morning I was going to call the gas company,” Downs says.

Instead, emergency responders were called about the explosion around 4 a.m. Neighbors pulled 54-year-old Shelly Williams out of the rubble, and Bell was found in the driveway after he was ejected from the home.

Bell is now at Wexner Medical Center in fair condition, but Williams died. Fire officials also say a family dog crawled out of the debris and was taken to a vet.

A spokeswoman for Columbus Gas says crews turned off the gas line at the home.

Fire officials have yet to determine the cause of the explosion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.