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Flint fire chief explains investigation into deadly house explosion

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Flint Fire Chief Raymond Barton explains how investigators will try to determine what sparked a deadly house explosion on Hogarth Avenue.

FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Investigators have begun the difficult and painstaking task of sifting through the charred debris of a structure brought down by an explosion, then destroyed by flames.

They're looking for enough evidence to determine what happened to the home in the 3900 block of Hogarth Avenue in Flint on Monday night.

"The explosion, did it come from basement, which lets us know as a fuel to sit low. If the house has a basement, if it was from upstairs, a fuel that rolls. People like with heaters and stuff like that, so now you get the natural gas. You got to take all those type of different things under consideration," said Flint Fire Chief Raymond Barton.

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The investigators will use several tools to try to find out what, if any, fuels were used, such as a sniffer or cadaver dog.

"They'll pick up the smell of accelerants or different things like that. That's going on," Barton said.

Investigators will often look back at the smoke from a scene for answers.

"So different things burn differently. So I'm almost set off like cars' metallic brakes, they'll set off a blue flame. You look at a different flame, different chemical bond differently. So you're looking at the color of the flame, the color of the smoke and that's the stuff we go through when training and it hires and they learn. They pick up on those things. So when they get information they'll ask questions like, 'What color was the flame?'" Barton said.

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He said one of the final pieces of the puzzle to figure out what happened is often the most difficult.

"So sometimes you're dealing with their grief and now our investigators and those people may reach back out and go to those people and ask questions -- did you smell gas, did you have any repairmen in your home and things like that," Barton said. 

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He said it could be weeks before investigators learn the exact cause. It's possible, given amount of destruction to the home, they may never determine an exact cause.


Cheri Hardmon anchors ABC12 News on weekend evenings and works as a reporter on weekdays

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