Investigators turn focus on gas stove in fatal explosion

October 03, 1990|By Sheridan Lyons

Investigators seeking to pinpoint the cause of a natural gas explosion Monday that killed an elderly Irvington woman focused their attention yesterday on the gas stove that was found on top of her when rescue workers dug her body from the rubble.

"The stove is what we're interested in," said John A. Metzger, a spokesman for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

But investigators from both the utility and the Fire Department said the mound of debris that was once a two-story, brick row house at 321 Martingale Ave. was too unsteady for them to work in safely until some of the rubble was removed or shored up.

The blast that killed Marian Wilderson, 85, also injured two other residents of the quiet neighborhood. Moments before the explosion, neighbors had called the utility to report a strong odor of gas in the area.

"All we're saying is that it was an accumulation of natural gas from an unknown source," said Capt. Patrick P. Flynn, a Fire Department spokesman.

"From all indications, she must have turned something on and didn't light it -- and then all it takes is a spark, a light, even a refrigerator turning on."

Mr. Metzger said BG&E crews had completed testing all lines in the area yesterday and found "no leak anywhere in our lines up to and including the meter in the basement" at Mrs. Wilderson's house.

Any leak would have been in the lines to Mrs. Wilderson's gas appliances, but he said the cause was "more likely improper use of equipment."

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