More details released following May explosion in Columbia City

The Indiana State Police, Whitley County Coroner’s Office and Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office has released more details into a building explosion that happened in late May in Columbia City along North Line Street.

The Fire Marshal’s investigation said a gas valve at the back of the building of the old R&D Cycle Shop had the most significant leak in the building. They say the valve was near where 34-year old Zachery Sparkman from LaOtto was near and he was known as a smoker.

Officials say no evidence was found that there was any intentional manipulation of the building’s natural gas system to cause the explosion. “All of the evidence gathered indicates the explosion was caused by an unintentional natural gas leak ignited by an independent ignition source.”

Officials also examined all of the natural gas lines in the building and tested them. Several of the connections were found with minor leaks in them probably from the explosion and fire.

The Whitley County Coroner’s Office confirmed an autopsy that Sparkman was the person killed in the explosion, but an official cause of death has not been released.

The Indiana State Police investigators have not yet finalized their portion of the death investigation, which is pending the final autopsy report from the Northeast Indiana Forensic Center.