Foul play suspected in Capitol Heights house explosion

Friday, July 14, 2006

Foul play is suspected in the explosion that blew up a Capitol Heights home on July 13, according to county fire department spokesman Mark Brady.

Investigators ruled yesterday that ‘‘altered gas service lines” caused natural gas to be released into the home and trigger the blast. Washington Gas, which had previously provided gas to the home but switched off service in May, is not considered at fault, Brady said.

Though foul play is suspected, Brady said, ‘‘The intent was not to blow up the house. I think the intent was to steal natural gas, and a byproduct of that was the house exploding.”

Nobody was living at the home at the time of the blast, and nobody was injured.

The homeowner, who was in the process of selling the home and returned to do some touchup work in the morning, reported smelling natural gas to Washington Gas at about 8:30 a.m. The explosion was reported 15 minutes later.

The damage is estimated at $200,000.

Meanwhile, Washington Gas is still in the process of repairing couplings in a 100-square mile region of the county, after a District Heights home exploded last March.

‘‘We’re still on track to finish the project in December 2007,” Washington Gas spokesman Tim Sargeant said. Washington Gas is assisting the fire department in the investigation.