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Neighbors to fix home near blast



Published: Fri, August 2, 2013 @ 12:01 a.m.

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Wanda and John Mack sit on the porch of their 539 Cohasset Drive home Thursday, the day after it was heavily damaged when the house next door exploded. They are putting in a claim with their insurance company and are staying at a hotel until the damaged is fixed.

By JOE GORMAN

jgorman@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A weather forecast may have saved Wanda Mack’s life.

The 539 Cohasset Drive woman was about to cut her lawn Wednesday morning but decided to skip it because of the forecast for rain.

She said Thursday had she not seen the forecast, she would have been in her front yard behind her lawn mower about the same time a house next door at 535 Cohasset Drive exploded. The blast showered the neighborhood with glass, siding, charred bits of insulation and large pieces of wooden frames and drywall.

That explosion was ruled an arson Thursday.

“The news said it was going to rain,” she said. “That’s the only thing that saved my life.”

Mack and her husband, John, were waiting on an insurance adjuster Thursday as they tried to gather things from their home, which sustained severe damage. Firefighters told her the house was knocked off the foundation and there were holes in her walls, siding and roof. Pieces of glass were everywhere inside her living room.

Capt. Alvin Ware, fire department chief fire investigator, said Dominion East Ohio crews found no leaks in the gas line to the house and the line was secure. Ware said the area where the explosion and fire originated was where the stove had been in the kitchen. The stove is missing from the home.

Ware said a neighbor heard a crash come from inside the house about 1 a.m. Wednesday but ignored it.

“No one paid attention to it,” Ware said.

Ware said the gas and electric were left on inside the home, and when the gas line to the stove was cut when it was taken, that allowed the gas to build up. Ware said that with the electric being left on, any spark from an appliance such as a furnace or a sump pump could have caused the explosion.

“Even just ringing the doorbell could’ve done it,” Ware said.

Their insurance company put them up in a hotel overnight and will pay for a place for them to stay while repairs are made on their home, Wanda Mack said.

The Macks were inside the house when the explosion happened, and they were rescued by several neighbors but were not hurt. They have lived in the home for more than 40 years and have no plans of moving, Wanda Mack said.

“And we’re planning on staying another 40 years,” Wanda Mack added.

She said spending the night somewhere else, though, was different.

“It’s strange already. Last night was strange,” Wanda Mack said.

All the utilities were shut off to the home, and the Macks had to step around the glass that covered her carpets.

The home next door to the Macks that exploded was vacant and was owned by CHOICE homes. Estimates from neighbors varied as to how long it had been vacant.

Ware said another vacant home owned by CHOICE homes was destroyed by a similar explosion two years ago on Atkinson Avenue on the East Side. He said in that case the stove was missing also and police arrested the people who stole it.


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