The Journal Gazette
Sunday, May 23, 2021 1:00 am

Columbia City warehouse blast leaves man dead

Journal Gazette

State police were investigating an explosion at a warehouse in Columbia City that killed a man Saturday.

About 9 a.m., police and fire crews from multiple agencies responded to an explosion at 515 N. Line St. and found a warehouse engulfed in flames, according to a news release from the Indiana State Police.

Three people were said to be in or around the building during the initial explosion, and two escaped with minor injuries, according to the news release.

One man was trapped inside and fire crews were unable to rescue him because of the intensity of the fire, the release said.

The fire was extinguished by 2:30 p.m., and police and fire investigators were able to locate and recover the body.

A preliminary cause of the explosion and fire is believed to be related to a natural gas leak, the news release said.

The state fire marshal's office will handle the fire portion of the investigation and will determine the cause and manner of the explosion, according to the release.

There was significant damage to businesses and residential structures south and west of the warehouse.

The identity of the man killed in the explosion will be determined by the Whitley County coroner and released at a later date.

The Whitley County Sheriff's Department said power was knocked out throughout the area and was impacting traffic signals.

“Due to an explosion and fire on Line Street near Dollar General, power is out throughout the area and impacting traffic signals,” the department posted on its Facebook page. “Please treat any non-functioning traffic signal as a 4-way stop. Avoid the Line Street area as fire crews continue working on the scene.”

The post was updated to say traffic signals appeared to be functioning correctly.

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