Officials: House Explosion In Ballantyne Ruled Accidental | PHOTOS

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The Charlotte Fire Investigation Task Force has conducted its investigation into the house explosion in Ballantyne.  CFD fire investigators have ruled the incident as accidental based upon the physical scene examination and known information gathered by the task force members, according to a news release.

Fire investigators determined the house was secured from the time the homeowners left and returned from their vacation.  Officials say a significant rise in natural gas use was identified for the residence beginning several days prior to July 2nd, indicating a leak occurring inside the structure.

Officials go on to say the residence was most likely saturated with natural gas which ignited within a few minutes of the homeowners entering the residence. However, fire investigators say they were not able to determine the specific cause or equipment involved in the leak.  They say they could not identify a specific ignition source either.

An outside investigation will continue through the insurance carriers and other specialty engineers who will conduct forensic testing and examination of the natural gas equipment from the home, according to a news release.  This process will likely take several months.

58-year-old Rania Karam was killed during the Ballantyne home explosion.  Her husband, Dr. Jebran Karam, was found about 60 feet away in a stairwell toward the rear of the house.

Dr. Karam reportedly called 911 from beneath the rubble of the home, and even mentioned an odor inside the house.

He was seriously injured and airlifted to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. There has been no update on his condition.

Read below for full details on the explosion.

Original Story (Posted: July 3, 2019):

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, officials with the Charlotte Fire Department said the preliminary cause of Tuesday’s deadly home explosion appears to have been an interior gas leak.

Officials say the explosion was likely accidental, but did not release any further information on what may have sparked the explosion or how long the leak may have been active.

WATCH: Charlotte Fire Department is providing an update on yesterday's deadly home explosion in Ballantyne. #wccb #cltnews #cltfd #news #update

Posted by WCCB, Charlotte's CW on Wednesday, July 3, 2019

58-year-old Rania Karam was killed during the Ballantyne home explosion Tuesday afternoon. Crews found her in the downstairs area of the home seven hours after the explosion happened.

Rania Karam

Officials say Karam’s husband, Dr. Jebran Karam, was found about 60 feet away in a stairwell toward the rear of the house.

Dr. Karam reportedly called 911 from beneath the rubble of the home, and even mentioned an odor inside the house.

He was seriously injured and airlifted to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. There has been no update on his condition.

Raleigh General Hospital, where Dr. Karam served as a physician, released the following statement on Wednesday:

“We were deeply saddened to hear about this incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Karam family during this difficult time. Dr. Jebran Karam is a tremendous cardiologist, physician and advocate for his patients. We wish him a full and fast recovery.”

WCCB’s Alexandra Elich spoke with the wife of a man treated by Dr. Karam, who describes him as a “caring cardiologist” with an amazing beside manner and who “loved his family and his patients.”

 

Several nearby houses were also damaged in the explosion.  Two people that were in the neighboring homes were treated for non-life threatening injuries.

WCCB’s Morgan Fogarty posted these videos from the scene on her Twitter account:

Nearby residents say they felt the explosion that flattened the house on James Jack Lane near the intersection of Jockeys Ridge Drive in Ballantyne.

One woman who was walking in the neighborhood tells WCCB she felt the explosion when it happened. See her interview below:

Officials with Piedmont Natural Gas released the following statement Wednesday morning:

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life. Our condolences and prayers are with those who are injured and who’ve lost a loved one.

Yesterday, our technicians tested and checked the Piedmont natural gas lines in the area, and no natural gas leaks on our lines were detected. We’ve determined the Piedmont natural gas pipelines in this area are operating safely. In an update last night, the fire department confirmed the area is safe.

Piedmont Natural Gas is committed to assisting and cooperating fully with the fire department and other agencies investigating this tragedy. The safety of this community continues to be our highest priority.

Call 800-752-7504 if you have any concerns about your natural gas service.”

Residents are being urged to properly maintain any appliances that use natural gas, as those are not the responsibility of a utility company. Charlotte Fire officials say the interior gas leak that may have sparked Tuesday’s deadly explosion would be out of the scope of Piedmont Natural Gas to maintain, and it is up to homeowners to maintain those interior lines.

The Charlotte ATF says they have been called in to investigate the incident, along with the Charlotte Fire Department.

The estimated damage from the explosion is currently at around $5 million.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.