EVANSVILLE, Ind. - In a report aired by WRTV-6 (Indianapolis), undetected natural gas is believed to have led to an April 3 explosion that destroyed an 89-year-old woman's home, killing her and a friend and severely burning a gas company worker, according to investigators.

A gas leak reportedly occurred at the home after city water department employees mistook the gas line to the house for a water line. The employees were replacing water meters in the area, but when they turned a valve to shut off the line, it fractured a plastic pipe carrying gas that was inside an older metal pipe.

Water crews notified the gas company, which sent a technician to fix the problem.

The report noted that gas leaked out of the plastic pipe and into the metal one. The metal pipe, which stopped short of the house, allowed gas to migrate through the ground to the home's basement. Since the gas passed through the ground, its odorant, which signals leaks, was filtered out. The technician repaired the gas line, but undetected gas was present in the basement.

Once the repair was made, the worker tried to relight the pilot at the water heater and the explosion then occurred.

Publication date: 04/12/2004