Explosion Still Felt by Residents

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An explosion engulfed a house at 4829 15th Place in Meridian at 7:50 p.m. Tuesday.

The blast blew the roof off of the house and shook other homes for blocks around it.

It took firefighters more than an hour to put the blaze out. Afterward, an elderly white female was found dead in the house, owned by Ann Kahlmus.

Investigators have spent Wednesday going through the rubble, looking for clues.

Fire Chief Jeff Homan said never in his career has he seen an explosion of this magnitude.

As state and local fire officials conduct their investigation, a natural gas leak is thought to be the source.

The specific origin of the leak is still unknown. Chief Homan said he expects that information could be determined as early as Thursday. He says it could be anything from a leak in the home's gas line to a household appliance.

Homan said he wants neighbors to know the leak is not a danger for the entire neighborhood. It was specific to that house.

Residents in the affluent neighborhood are in shock.

Steve Stewart was cleaning up glass from the explosion in his driveway Wednesday. When he heard it, he assumed a transformer had blown up.

"When I glanced outside and saw the flames, I knew it was more than a power outage. It was pretty surreal," Stewart said.

Stewart had a couple of his own windows knocked out. Even more windows were knocked out at a home across the street.

Bud Thompson was at Phil Hardin Park and heard the blast from there.

"We heard the explosion and saw the black plume of smoke, and I said, 'that looks way too close to our house,'" said Thompson.

Indeed, it was right next door to his house, though he didn't have any damage. Thompson's friend Bob Bullock lives in a home almost a mile away. He said he was shaken up.

"The way my house shook, I was surprised," said Bullock. "That had to be on gigantic explosion."

Even hours after the explosion happened, neighbors were still upset, unable to believe what happened in their normally quiet neighborhood.

"It really did shock us," said Hodges Riggan. "We didn't know what happened. No one in the neighborhood knew."

And once they found out, they also learned they'd lost a friend in the explosion. Residents there say they won't soon get over what happened.Click here to view this story