Investigation into fatal house explosion in Lowell continues

2013-09-11T11:45:00Z 2013-09-12T13:15:12Z Investigation into fatal house explosion in Lowell continuesLauri Harvey Keagle lauri.keagle@nwi.com, (219) 852-4311 nwitimes.com

LOWELL | Investigators from three agencies are continuing their probe of a fatal Monday night house explosion in Lowell.

Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said Tuesday preliminary findings show the cause of the blast at the home at 102 E. 181st Ave. to be a gas leak from a propane tank.

Patti Van Til, spokeswoman for the Lake County Sheriff's Department, said Wednesday the official cause is awaiting a final report from the office of the Indiana State Fire Marshal.

Garrett Walton, spokesman for the fire marshal's office, said all information about the probe will be distributed by the Lake County Sheriff's Department, which is leading the investigation.

Lowell firefighters were called to the home around 7 p.m. Monday and found the home destroyed by an explosion and the one to the west engulfed in flames.

Victor Strain, 43, of 108 E. 181st Ave., was pronounced dead at 12:25 a.m. Tuesday at the scene of the explosion, according to a Lake County Coroner's office report.

The official cause and manner of death are pending further investigation. An investigator for the coroner's office said Wednesday the findings could take several days.

The home destroyed in the blast is owned by the Arthur B. Hardiman Living Trust. Hardiman's daughter — Patty McLane, of Avon, Ind., — said Strain helped her family by checking on the home and was checking something suspicious there when the house exploded.

She did not elaborate on the nature of the suspicious circumstances.

McLane said Strain was at her father's house and was on the phone with her brother when the blast occurred, sending debris flying into nearby treetops and across Ind. 2 into a corn field.

Lake County police are treating the case as a death investigation, Van Til said.

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