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Gas line was cut, fed into home

10-2-2005 Nebraska:
.It appears that someone intentionally cut a fuel line to the Irvington mobile home that exploded Tuesday, leaving two injured, including a man who was to be sentenced today for sexually assaulting a child. A preliminary investigation shows the fuel line to the mobile home was cut and fed into a drilled hole in the trailer wall, said Mari Matulka, a spokeswoman for Metropolitan Utilities District. The case has been turned over to the State Fire Marshal's Office. Irvington firefighters were just arriving Tuesday night at 7003 N. 113th Plaza in Park Meadows when the mobile home exploded, sending Linda and Ken Topping to the hospital.

Ken Topping, 52, was scheduled to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. today in Douglas County District Court on one count each of first-degree sex assault on a child and attempted second-degree sex assault. Instead, he remains at the Nebraska Medical Center, where he was taken by ambulance. Linda Topping was flown by helicopter to the hospital. Information relayed on police scanners said the woman had burns on her face, arms and legs. A medical center spokeswoman was unable to provide a condition update on either victim this morning.

Asha Mobley, a neighbor, said she heard the explosion and looked out her window to see a fireball coming out of the east side of the home. She then saw a man helping a woman out of the home. The woman collapsed on the lawn. Another neighbor, Sharon Marquez, said she and an emergency responder carried the woman on a blanket across the street. Fire Chief Nolan Paulsen said neighbors reported a gas smell about 9:30 p.m. The chief arrived a few minutes later and was just walking up to the mobile home when it exploded. "The outcome could have been a little different," the chief said. "I was happy to see the sun come up this morning.

Matulka said anyone tampering with gas lines or meters is in violation of state law. Anyone with information can call 554-6666. All tips and information are confidential. The State Fire Marshal could not be reached for comment. ..more.. : by ABE WINTER AND LYNN SAFRANEK, WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITERS

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