Crown Point Fire Chief Greg DeLor provided this photo of a stove 50 feet in the air in the branches of a tree outside the home on 181st Avenue that was destroyed by an explosion Sept. 9. | Supplied photo
Updated: September 17, 2013 2:03PM
LOWELL — The ground and the building shook at the Indiana State Police Post on 181st Avenue near the Rt. 2 interchange with Interestate 65. The employees at Franciscan St. Anthony’s Hospital in Crown Point felt the shock.
If you were home anywhere from Lowell to at least the south side of Crown Point, your dogs might have been barking at what seemed to be nothing around 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9. It was not an earthquake that turned the lights off and then back on again at the State Police building.
It was a home located at 108 E. 181st Ave., which is also Rt. 2 outside of Lowell. The house was on the north side of 181st Avenue, and was east of Harrison Street and west of Georgia Street, and west of Ebert Ditch. An explosion obliterated it, from the inside out.
Dead is 43-year-old Victor Strain, who had noticed a security light out at the now empty home across the street from his home. He had called the neighbor’s family to see if he should go check it out. The man who had lived there was now in a nursing home.
Strain went over to see what was wrong. He was talking to a family member on his cell phone, who was telling him where the fuse box was in the basement, and suddenly the phone went silent.
The stove in the home was fueled by propane gas. There was a tank outside in the back yard. The rest of the appliances in the house were electric, there was no natural gas line to this house. According to Crown Point Fire Chief Greg DeLor, who was at the scene the night of the explosion and also the next day for the investigation helping the State Fire Marshall, the cause was probably a leak at the stove.
DeLor’s reasoning was that everything else exploded out and the stove went straight up in the air and ended up about 50 feet in the air resting in the branches of a large tree.
Strain was not located until the explosion and fire scene was brought under control. He was found in the basement of the house.
The explosion also set the neighboring house at 102 E. 181st Ave. on fire. That home was consumed by the fire storm of debris issuing from the explosion. Fortunately no one was at home at the time.
According to the Lake County Sheriff’s spokesperson Rob Arnold, Strain was pronounced dead at the scene of the explosion at about 12:20 a.m. the next morning, by the Lake County Coroner’s Office.