Kettering house explosion investigation could take months

Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 2:35 PM
Updated: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 10:07 AM

Watch as a Kettering PD cruiser arrives at the scene of a house explosion and fire early Tuesday morning.

Multiple agencies are expected to be involved in the investigation of a deadly Kettering house explosion early Tuesday, and the work could take months, one investigator said. 

A 58-year-old woman, Darlene Baumgardner, died as a result of injuries suffered in the incident on North Claridge Drive. Massive flames shot into the sky as first responders arrived. Baumgardner was found in a neighbor’s yard. 

Scott Bennett was hired by a law firm to investigate the explosion and was on the scene Wednesday. He is a former Dayton fire investigator and president of the International Association of Arson Investigators. 

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Many parties will seek their own review of the incident, including the victim’s family, insurance and utility companies. That work will take several months to finish, he said. 

Kettering fire officials initially said a natural gas leak was a possible cause but have not provided additional information on the cause since then.

Dash-camera video released by Kettering police shows what officers and firefighters encountered Tuesday morning after a house exploded on North Claridge Drive.

This news organization requested the video to be released and is continuing to report and make inquiries about the investigation into the deadly incident.

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The video shows the police cruiser driving through the meandering suburban street. It was raining at the time. Initially, the video shows a Kettering fire engine and a glow in the background sky. When the officer pulls closer, the video shows massive flames reaching 30 to 50 feet in the sky where the home once stood.

Baumgardner was found in critical condition in the next door neighbor’s yard after her house exploded before dawn Tuesday, according to authorities. Officials said she succumbed to her injuries at the scene.

Preliminary findings from the autopsy indicate Baumgardner died of multiple blunt-force trauma and thermal injuries, the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office said today.

RELATED >>> Victim in deadly Kettering house explosion, fire identified

When the flames were extinguished at the house on North Claridge Drive, nothing but charred and splintered debris remained.

The Kettering emergency dispatch center was inundated with calls from neighbors, the first shortly after 4:30 a.m.

“Oh my God. I can see it a little better now. I think the house has collapsed. There was an explosion. There’s stuff in the yard,” one of the first 9-1-1 callers reported.

What caused the explosion?

The exact cause of the explosion remains under investigation, but the immediate indications were that it was linked to a natural gas leak, according to Kettering Fire Chief Tom Butts.  

“It sure seems like it could have been fed by natural gas of some sort, just due to the bulk of the explosion here and the debris field,” he said. “I’m believing that the neighborhood is in shock from this occurring … This is a tragic event, but we’ll do everything we possibly can do to figure out exactly what caused this, so that this never happens again, or we can figure out how to keep this from happening again.”

If a gas leak is linked to the cause of the explosion, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio may be obligated to launch an investigation, said PUCO Spokesman Matt Schilling.

“If the gas utility appears to be involved, as state regulators of gas pipeline safety, we would get involved,” Schilling said. 

Schilling said PUCO investigates to determine that state and federal gas pipeline safety standards were followed and to determine if there were any contributing factors. 

If the source of the leak is determined to be inside the home, Schilling said PUCO would not be involved in the investigation because it wouldn’t involve the “utilities infrastructure.”

Residents who live near the home told WHIO’s Sean Cudahy they were wakened by a loud boom that shook their homes.

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“The garage door was blown across the street … Just an ‘oh my God’ moment,” said neighbor Jim Brown. 

Neighbor Cynthia Michael said she and her husband heard the boom and searched their home for what might have caused it. 

“It could happen to anybody,” Michael said. “You’re very blessed if your house is intact, especially considering this time of year and Christmas. It makes it even harder.”

A similar explosion happened March 28 in the 400 block of Pamela Sue Drive in Kettering. Four people and a dog escaped, but one person suffered injuries. This news organization is working to learn the findings from that investigation.

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Family of boy who drowned in Dayton pool hires civil rights attorney Ben Crump

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 11:03 AM
Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 6:06 PM

The family of a 6-year-old boy who died after drowning in a Dayton city-owned swimming pool wants answers about how long the boy was under water and why lifeguards were allegedly not watching the boy more closely.

UPDATE @ 5:53 p.m. (July 17): Niguel Hamilton’s family has retained the services of civil right attorney Ben Crump.

Crump, who has represented the family of Trayvon Martin and taken on other high profile cases, was retained by the Hamilton family to “pursue justice,” according to a statement issued Tuesday. 

“They don't understand how you have three certified swimming instructors and only four children in the pool, and yet you lose one of them,” Crump said of the family. “They're heartbroken, and they just are searching for answers.”

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The Hamilton family was paying for swimming lessons a Lohrey Recreation Center to prevent exactly this kind of tragedy, Crump said. 

READ: 2 pulled to safety from the Mad River at Eastwood MetroPark

The attorney was in town Tuesday and he said he’s helping the Hamilton family plan Niguel’s home-going celebrations this weekend. He said he also plans to push the city for an explanation of how the boy could have died. 

“The family has gotten no answers at this point,” Crump said. 

Niguel’s parents released a statement for the first time Tuesday: “No parent should ever have to endure such a preventable loss, and we want to make sure no other parents suffer a loss like this."

Crump added: "He had his whole life ahead of him. He never ever, ever, ever should have been taken this soon."

Services for Niguel are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Timothy Missionary Baptist Church in Dayton.

SEE ALSO: Boa constrictor skin found in Springfield, snake may be on loose


The 6-year-old pulled from a Dayton pool last week has died, according to the coroner’s office.

Niguel Hamilton died at the hospital Sunday night, officials said.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Boy pulled from bottom of Dayton pool ‘brain dead,’ grandfather says

Hamilton was pulled from the indoor pool at Lohrey Recreation Center in Dayton on July 12.

The city released a statement Friday afternoon: “A thorough investigation is underway. Out of respect for the family involved, we will not be making additional comments at this time.”

A Dayton Police Department detective also has been assigned to the case.

Niguel Hamilton was one of about four children in the indoor pool for swim lessons at the center, the boy’s grandfather, Willie Hamilton said. 

“He’s happy, full of life, loving, smart,” his grandfather said Friday. “Niguel is a good kid. He is a loving kid. Everybody who meets Niguel loves him.”

The last thing Hamilton remembers of Niguel’s swim lesson is that he saw him with his class in the deep end, and that Niguel, who is 6 but small for his age, had just gone off the diving board with his instructor’s assistance.

Shortly after that, a lifeguard said they didn’t see Niguel in the water and asked if he had seen him, whether he had gone to the restroom.

“I got up, went to the bathroom and looked around and couldn’t find him,” Hamilton said.

The lifeguards then got everyone out of the pool and searched again, in vain.

Hamilton said he went outside to check for him, but when he returned he learned they found him at the bottom of the pool.

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Miamisburg to restrict cell towers for 5G mobile technology

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 3:52 PM
Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 6:46 PM

            Miamisburg is one of several area communities considering design standards to regulate the location and size of small cell antennas and facilities for the latest wireless technology system, 5G. FILE
Miamisburg is one of several area communities considering design standards to regulate the location and size of small cell antennas and facilities for the latest wireless technology system, 5G. FILE

Restrictions on small cell phone towers have been approved by Miamisburg City Council.

Limits on locations on heights for the towers are among the guidelines approved in the 5-0 vote.

The restrictions go into effect immediately, city officials said.

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Legislation regulating the 5G mobile technology facilities is an issue several area communities – Centerville, Kettering and Springboro, among them – are addressing as Ohio law allowing municipalities limited authority over their placement takes effect Aug. 1.

RELATED: Centerville taking steps to prepare for latest generation of wireless technology

Miamisburg is “creating design and siting standards” for “small cell facilities and wireless support structures,” according to the legislation. The 20-plus page document covers issues ranging from applicability, procedures, standards, locations and right of way issues.

“Unfortunately, there will likely still be small cell facilities installed in areas that are not preferable from an aesthetic perspective,” according to a memo from Miamisburg Planner Ryan Homsi. “This ordinance is meant to prevent this from happening with the tools provided to municipalities by (state law) while still allowing this new technology to be added to the community.”

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Boa constrictor skin found in Springfield, snake may be on loose

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 12:05 PM
Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 12:05 PM

Springfield boa constrictor

Clark County officials are warning residents to be on the lookout for a possible boa constrictor after shed skin of the snake was found in Springfield last week.

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On Friday, officials said the skin was found in the area of Home Road and Wildwood Drive.

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Snake skin found in Clark County

“Subsequent communications with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Department of Agriculture, and Reptilian experts indicate there is no direct danger to humans or large pets,” the Clark County Combined Health District said in a prepared statement.

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Residents in the area are asked to pay extra attention to small pets and to be on the look out for the large snake. If spotted you are asked to call 937-390-5600 to report the exact location of the sighting.

Constrictor snakes are non-venomous, but can inflict harm, including a bite, the health department said.

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More comfortable weather on the way, weekend showers expected

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 3:19 AM
Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 6:40 PM

Storms return by the weekend.

>> LISTEN: Cloudy with a Chance of Podcast: A podcast for weather fans 


  • Lower humidity through midweek
  • Temperatures rise for the end of the week
  • Unsettled weather pattern for the weekend

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>> 5-Day Forecast


This evening: A quiet evening with clear skies and a light breeze. Temperatures slowly dropping through the 80s with lower humidity.

Overnight: A comfortable night in the forecast with clear skies and temperatures dropping to around 60 degrees by morning.

>> LIVE Doppler 7 HD Interactive Radar

Wednesday: Lots of sunshine is expected with the humidity remaining low. It will be pleasantly warm with highs in the lower 80s.

Thursday: A warmer day is expected with some high clouds around mixed with sunshine. Highs will rebound into the middle 80s.

>> County-by-County Weather 

Friday: Clouds will be on the increase through the day with a chance for showers and storms developing by late afternoon. Highs will be in the middle 80s with humidity on the rise.

Saturday: Numerous showers and storms are expected, especially during the afternoon and early evening. One or two stronger storms will be possible. Highs will be in the lower 80s.

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Sunday: A mix of clouds and sunshine will wrap up the weekend with a continued chance for a few showers or storms. Highs will hold in the lower 80s.

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