Homeowner says she doubts furnace caused Indianapolis neighborhood explosion

Investigators focused on natural gas

INDIANAPOLIS - The woman who lived in the home believed at the center of a deadly Indianapolis explosion doesn't believe the furnace was the source of the blast.

Monserrate Shirley told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she had her thermostat replaced recently, correcting a problem heating the home, but she said the furnace was fine.

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Shirley's ex-husband, John Shirley of Noblesville, has said his daughter, who lived there, had told him they were having furnace problems.

Monserrate Shirley declined to speak with RTV6. Her attorney said that Shirley, an emergency room nurse, and her boyfriend, Mark Leonard, who also lived in the home, are upset and concerned for those affected by the blast.

"Their neighbors suffered damages. Lives have been lost," Randall Cable said. "Their whole life has been tossed upside down. Everything they have is gone."

Cable said her clients are also bothered by speculation and innuendo, especially from the woman's ex-husband.

"She would like for him just to go mind his own business and get out of their business, because he's reporting things about the house, and he hasn't been around for definitely a year and almost two years," Cable said.

Monserrate Shirley told the AP she smelled a strange odor outside before the blast but doesn't know if it was natural gas.

She, her daughter and Leonard were not home when the explosion happened Saturday, killing two people and decimating their neighborhood.

Investigators said they believe gas was involved and are focusing on appliances.

"Our investigators believe natural gas is involved," Gary Coons, chief of the Indianapolis Department of Homeland Security, said. "They are currently in the process of recovering the appliances from destroyed homes to help determine the cause."

Citizens Energy Group officials said inspectors found no problems with gas lines in the neighborhood or the gas lines running to individual houses, but that doesn't mean there were no gas issues inside the homes.

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