The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 10:40 am

Details of investigation into Columbia City building explosion released

The Journal Gazette

The explosion at a Columbia City warehouse last month was caused by an “unintentional natural gas leak ignited by an independent ignition source," the Indiana State Fire Marshal's office said today.

Zachery Sparkman, 34, of LaOtto was found inside the warehouse following the May 22 explosion, Indiana State Police at Fort Wayne said in a statement. The cause and manner of his death are pending a final autopsy report from the Northeast Indiana Forensic Center in Fort Wayne, the Whitley County coroner's office said. State police said they had not completed their part of the death investigation pending the report.

During the investigation, the Indiana State Fire Marshal's office examined and tested all the natural gas lines in the building, the statement said. It said minor leaks were found in several connections, likely from the explosion and fire.

A gas valve along the back wall, near Sparkman's location, was examined and showed the most significant leak in the building, the fire marshal's office said. It said Sparkman was known to smoke.

Investigators did not find any evidence of tampering with the building's natural gas system before the explosion, the fire marshal's office said.



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