- Associated Press - Friday, October 13, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Officials are starting to remove the rubble remains of a Lincoln home that was torn apart in a fatal explosion in August.

Neighbors complained to city officials and American Family Insurance about the lack of action in addressing the debris. The home insurer has ordered cleanup to begin, said Linda Wagener, a spokeswoman for the company.

The Aug. 14 explosion leveled the home of Jim and Jeanne Jasa. Jeanne Jasa died as a result of the blast. Jim Jasa was still hospitalized as of Thursday, the Lincoln Journal Star reported .

Lincoln police are still investigating what caused the natural gas-fed blast, but investigators finished their on-site work within about two weeks and have released the property to the insurance company.

Wagener declined to address what the insurer’s own investigation determined or reveal why the company delayed the cleanup, citing customer confidentiality.

“We were waiting to get some appropriate permissions,” she said.

Police ruled out an external gas leak as the cause after the State Fire Marshal’s Office conducted tests a day after the explosion. Investigators also said natural gas provider Black Hills Energy wasn’t responsible.

Police are treating the case as a criminal investigation. Investigators believe the blast was ignited from inside the house and have said they aren’t looking for anyone else in connection with the blast, which rained debris throughout the neighborhood.

“The complexity of this, based on the level of destruction, is immense,” said Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister, adding that investigators plan to meet with prosecutors next week to discuss the status of the probe.

Wagener said contractors could begin removing debris as early as Friday. She doesn’t know how long the job will take.

“We feel it’s urgent for us,” Wagener said. “Our hearts go out to the Jasas and the people in the neighborhood for this tragedy.”


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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