School fundraiser part of efforts to help Middletown families displaced by explosion

After an explosion destroyed an apartment building, displacing 10 Middletown residents, units have been reserved for them, and a local school district is collecting donations for one of the families.

Five of the six units in a Townhomes West apartment complex in the 400 block of Cribbs Avenue were occupied Dec. 2 when a gas leak caused an explosion. One resident, Brittany Vanderpool, 31, was asleep at the time and was seriously injured in the explosion. She suffered a back injury when the structure collapsed, according to the fire report.

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When contacted at the hospital, she refused to comment about the incident, referring all questions to her attorney.

Ben Jones, executive director of the Butler Metro Housing Authority, which oversees the property, said units in Middletown have been reserved for the residents. He was unsure when the residents will move into the apartments.

After the explosion, the residents were assisted by the American Red Cross with housing and food.

Middletown City Schools are collecting items for the Rains family, one of the five families that lost their housing.

The district will collect items through Jan. 6 on the fourth floor of the Middletown City Building, 1 Donham Plaza. The offices will be open Monday, Jan. 2, 3, and 6. Community members can contact Middletown City Schools with questions about the collection at 513-217-2665 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on those days.

The explosion was caused when natural gas permeated the nearby apartments and the furnace unit in Apt. 422 ignited the gas, said Middletown Division of Fire Lt. Frank Baughman, city fire marshal.

The apartments have been condemned by the City of Middletown because they’re uninhabitable, according to a city official. The city has notified BMHA it must demolish or rebuild the structure, according to an official. Jones said after meeting with the insurance adjuster, he will determine the “best path for the future” of the 44-year-old building.

Jones described the last three weeks as “very hectic” as he explored ways to find the residents housing.

“After the accident, we shifted our focus,” Jones said. “Buildings can be replaced. Lives can’t.”

A few holiday requests from the Rains family include:

Aaliyah: 11 years old, Highview Elementary

Favorite color: Teal/Blue

Wants: Fluffy blankets, Nike slides, Teal big bean bag, Takis, Hydroflask

Sizes: Large, jeans 13-15, shoes 9.5-10

Jayce: 10 years old, Rosa Parks Elementary

Favorite color: Lime green

Wants: Xbox One, head set, Xbox gift cards, Beyblades, Fortnite Nerf gun, Fast RC car

Sizes: Medium, jeans 34/30, shoes 10

Makenna: 7 years old, Rosa Parks Elementary

Wants: LOL stuff, FurReal pets, Barbie Dream House, JoJo doll w/ pajamas, arts and crafts stuff, Legos, Dork Diaries books, pink Hoverboard

Sizes: 8/10, Shoes 2-3

Mom: Shelley

Sizes: Large, shoes 8.5

Dad: Eric

Sizes: Large, jeans 36/34, shoes 10.5-11

SOURCE: Middletown City Schools

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