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Could faulty furnace be behind fiery Indianapolis explosion?

The owner of one of the homes that exploded Saturday night in an Indianapolis neighborhood said their furnace had been acting up recently. Authorities have not yet determined the cause of the explosion, which killed two people.

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Emergency personnel work at the site of a home that was destroyed by an explosion Sunday, in Indianapolis. Nearly three dozen homes were damaged or destroyed, and seven people were taken to a hospital with injuries, authorities said Sunday.

Darron Cummings/AP

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The owner of one of the homes that exploded in Indianapolis said Monday that a problem furnace could be to blame for the blast that killed two people and damaged dozens of homes so severely officials say they must be demolished.

John Shirley, 50, of Noblesville, told The Associated Press that his daughter sent him a text message last week complaining that the furnace in the home where she lives with her mother and her mother's boyfriend had gone out and required them to stay at hotel.

But Shirley also said when he asked if the furnace had been fixed, his daughter said yes, and he wasn't aware of any additional problems until he heard from his daughter again Sunday morning.

"I get a text from my daughter saying 'Dad, our home is gone. Then I called my ex-wife and she said what happened," he said.

His ex-wife, Monserrate Shirley, declined to comment Monday.

Investigators said they have not determined a cause for the Saturday night blast that sparked a massive fire, blew out windows, collapsed ceilings and shook homes up to three miles away. Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said the search for answers could take some time.

Utility workers have been inspecting gas mains in the neighborhood but so far have detected no leaks, a spokesman said.

The blast forced about 200 people out of their homes in the once-tidy neighborhood of one- and two-story single-family houses.

Some were allowed to return Sunday, and others were able to retrieve a few belongings. But officials have estimated about 30 homes will need to be demolished.

Indianapolis code enforcement officials met Monday with homeowners at a nearby church to discuss the status of their homes. Residents were given information about insurance and demolition procedures and how to make arrangements to visit their homes for an hour to collect belongings.

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