Authorities: 1 man dead in house explosion in eastern Ohio

NEWCOMERSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — A house explosion left one man dead in eastern Ohio, authorities said Wednesday.

Tuscarawas County coroner Dr. James Hubert said the man who died in the explosion Tuesday night in the village of Newcomerstown is believed to have been alone in the home. Hubert said tests will be needed to confirm his identity.

Investigators are trying to determine what caused the blast, state fire marshal’s spokesman William Krugh (KROOG) said. He said no other details were immediately available.

Columbia Gas Co. said in a statement that it believed natural gas was involved but also noted the investigation wasn’t complete. It later said it had confirmed the safety of its facilities in the area and that its investigation indicated “our facilities that serve the community did not contribute to the incident.” A message seeking further clarification was left for a Columbia Gas spokesman.

Lanny Warner, who lives two houses down from the one that was destroyed, told The (Dover-New Philadelphia) Times-Reporter that the blast rattled his windows and caused pictures to fall from the walls.

“I was sitting here eating and all of a sudden my house started shaking and I was like ‘Oh my God, what happened?'” recalled Warner. “I ran outside and saw sparks and stuff flying everywhere and the house was totally engulfed in flames and disintegrated really quick. It was a heck of blast.”

The Newcomerstown Exempted Village Schools District canceled classes Wednesday due to debris on school property. Two schools near the explosion were checked for structural damage, and classes were expected to resume Thursday, the Times-Reporter said.

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