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Indy plans blast demolition

Damaged homes to be razed soon

– An Indianapolis neighborhood that was ravaged by an explosion that killed a young couple is gearing up for the first of dozens of demolitions as investigators continue to search for answers about the blast.

Homeowners in the Richmond Hill subdivision needed to request demolition permits by Monday, and city officials said work to raze damaged homes could start as early as today.

Building inspectors last week ordered the demolition of 29 houses by Dec. 20. Four other homes, including two that were leveled in the Nov. 10 explosion, are being maintained as police investigate what they believe was an intentional natural gas explosion.

Jennifer and John Longworth, who lived next door to the house believed to be the epicenter of the blast, were killed.

While the houses at the heart of the blast are being maintained, other property owners have been notified of the need to obtain the $159 demolition permits by email, in person or through notices posted on their properties.

Residents can fight demolition by hiring an engineer and submitting a written plan to rebuild.

Adam Collins of the city’s Department of Code Enforcement told WISH-TV that the order to raze the homes is “a situation that we have never experienced.”

“For the most part I think everyone has been very understanding that this has been a safety issue and we have been trying to offer homeowners an opportunity to start fresh and get that recovery process going,” he said.

Some homeowners got a chance to see the damage Monday as they collected belongings from their damaged houses.

Peggy Pridemore, who lives on the street behind the explosion, told WTHR her home is one of those slated for demolition.

The house is caving in on itself, and Pridemore said about half her family’s belongings are beyond saving.

But she was intent on salvaging what she could as her family figures out what to do next.

“You’re happy that you’re getting something accomplished, but it’s our home. It’s tough. It’s broken a lot of the furniture from the ceiling falling and collapsing. A lot of the dishes are still good. A lot of the furniture that wasn’t in the back of the house is still good. We’ll just have to move on and replace it,” Pridemore said.