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Man hitting punching bag strikes gas meter, forces evacuation

By Tiffany Y. Latta, Staff Writer
Updated 5:02 PM Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MIDDLETOWN — A man hitting a punching bag accidentally knocked the gas meter off his wall, causing a natural gas leak that forced residents out of their homes for about two hours.
Middletown fire crews responded to 1008 Jackson St. about 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 27, and immediately evacuated residents on Jackson and Midway streets.

“This was an extremely dangerous situation because this house could have easily blown up and at least three or four houses nearby could have suffered significant damage,” Deputy Fire Chief Tom Snively said.

Snively said gas spewed from the home for about an hour before Duke Energy crews were able to dig underground and shut it off.

One of two men inside the home where the gas leak began, who was not identified, was transported to Atrium Medical Center after suffering from nausea. According to the Butler County Auditor’s Office website, the home is owned by Jeffrey A. Amburgey.

Residents were allowed back inside their homes at about 8 p.m.

Edna Donisi, who has lived on Jackson Street for 30 years, stood nearby waiting to be allowed back into her home.
“I heard the sirens and came outside and they told me not to got back inside. I’ve been out here ever since,” Donisi said.

Tuesday night’s gas leak was the third in as many weeks in the city of Middletown, although all three are unrelated.

Nearly 40 residents were evacuated for two hours July 14 after a Bruce Plumbing employee was cleaning a sewer line when he hit and ruptured the gas line at a house on Goldman Avenue. It was later determined the gas line had breached the sewer line, however Duke officials said the incident remains under investigation.

Two days later, Queen Avenue residents were evacuated from their homes after a neighbor reported a strong odor of natural gas coming from 2218 Queen Ave.

Middletown crews on July 16 found all doors locked, candles lit, the TV on, and the home’s furnace appeared to have been tampered with, according to police and fire officials.

Homeowner Ivan Ray English, 49, is in the Middletown City Jail after he turned himself in to police on July 23. He is charged with aggravated attempted arson, a third-degree felony, for allegedly trying to destroy his home. English, who police said has a history of making threats to blow up his home, is set to appear at 1:30 p.m. Thursday for a preliminary hearing in Middletown Municipal Court.

Staff Writers Lauren Pack and Jessica Heffner contributed to this report.

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Added: Jul-29-2010 Occurred On: Jul-28-2010
By: gregory_peckory
Tags: punching bag, gas meter, evacuation,
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