Officials: Natural gas to blame for Middletown explosion, house fire that sent occupant to hospital

A Middletown man is listed in serious condition this morning at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton after the back of his house in the 2500 block of Flemming Road exploded and caught fire Monday afternoon. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Caption
A Middletown man is listed in serious condition this morning at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton after the back of his house in the 2500 block of Flemming Road exploded and caught fire Monday afternoon. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

MIDDLETOWN — Natural gas that may have been accidentally turned on by the homeowner is to blame for a house fire and explosion that sent a Middletown man to the hospital with serious injuries.

Middletown fire officials said there was an accumulation of natural gas in a home in the 2500 block of Flemming Road Monday afternoon when the back of the residence exploded and caught fire.

Jerry Gillespie, who was home at the time, was listed in serious condition Tuesday night at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton where he was transferred after being transported to Atrium Medical Center in Middletown.

Fire Chief Paul Lolli said the occupant, later identified by the Journal-News as Gillespie, said he heard a loud bang and then saw flames. He escaped the house, but suffered “pretty significant injuries,” including severe burns to his extremities, Lolli said.

Lolli said when firefighters arrived, the back of the house was on fire and was “blown up.”

Capt. Frank Baughman, the city’s fire marshal, said the occupant thought he was turning off the water line when he may have accidentally turned on the gas. Baughman said the source of the ignition has not been located and the investigation continues.

He said the fire was being “fed” by the natural gas so Duke Energy was called to shut off the line.

When asked how to reduce the risk of such an incident, Baughman said homeowners probably should hire a professional. If they smell gas in their home, they should immediately call the fire department.

Also, he said, people should avoid hanging clothes on gas lines in the basement because over time, the lines may become worn and allow gas to leak.

Several friends of Gillespie’s reacted on Facebook to the incident and his injuries. Heather Gibson, owner of Triple Moon Coffee Shop in downtown Middletown, called him “good people” who has “a huge heart and is hands down one of the best people I know.”

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