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Gas leak at sex offender's home 'suspicious,' fire officials say

7-16-2010 Ohio:

MIDDLETOWN — Fire investigators are saying a natural gas leak that occurred today, July 16, at a home on Queen Avenue looks “suspicious.”

Police and firefighters evacuated residents from a Middletown neighborhood for the second time in two days after a natural gas leak was reported about 9 a.m. at _____.

When police and firefighters entered the home to investigate, they found all the doors locked, candles lit, the TV on and the home’s furnace looked as if it had been tampered with, Middletown Deputy Fire Chief Tom Snively said.

“It is suspicious and we’ve turned it over to the police department to investigate,” Snively said.

Middletown police Lt. Rodney Muterspaw said police are trying to determine if any criminal activity is involved. He said there are no suspects at this time.

“We’re going to try to determine where the leak came from and to see how it came about,” Muterspaw said. “It was a pretty strong leak.”

Police were able to pinpoint the home on Queen Avenue because its gas meter outside was running. Muterspaw said when he arrived on the scene the odor of gas was so strong, he could smell it two streets away.

“It could have been a major disaster,” Muterspaw said.

Firefighters and Duke Energy employees have shut off gas to the house, and have ventilated the area. Residents were allowed to return to their homes around 10 a.m.

No one was inside the Queen Avenue home when police responded to the initial call. According to the Butler County Sheriff’s Department website, ______, a 49-year-old registered sex offender, lives at the residence.

Daniel Richardson, a neighbor who lives at ___, confirmed that information, saying he and others in the neighborhood received notices when English moved in more than five years ago.

Richardson said ___ pretty much kept to himself and that no one in the neighborhood “really knows him very well.” He said the home where the leak occurred had recently been remodeled after being gutted by a fire last summer.

Some curious and anxious neighbors stood on their porches as authorities continue to investigate. It is unclear how many residents were evacuated this morning, however the entire block of Queen Avenue was evacuated in all directions.

About 10 fire officials, three police officers and two Duke Energy representatives remain on the scene. ..Source.. Chelsey Levingston, Staff Writer

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