December 18, 2014

Elyria
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COLUMBIA AVENUE EXPLOSION: No major injuries in blast; houses to be razed


ELYRIA — Christopher and Jenny Willard stared at the rubble — all that was left of the house at 116 Columbia Ave. that they had been trying to sell before it exploded Friday night.

Meanwhile, firefighters, police officers and representatives from Columbia Gas swarmed the neighborhood ensuring no one was injured, and everyone remained safe after the house exploded.

KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

At about 9:45 p.m. Friday the vacant house blew up — creating strong vibrations miles away that were felt as far away as Wolfey’s Bistro & Pub near state Route 57 and, according to The Chronicle-Telegram’s Facebook page, heard by residents in North Ridgeville.

The Willards, who now reside in Grafton according to the Lorain County auditor’s website, did not wish to comment but watched as firefighters climbed over the rubble that was spread across the street, into neighboring yards.

“We aren’t ready to talk,” Jenny Willard said.

She did confirm that neighbors contacted her and her husband after the explosion.

At one point, Christopher Willard picked up a piece of wood and turned it over and then dropped it on the ground, avoiding the nails that protruded.

Insulation clung to tree limbs; eave spouts were lying on the ground, bent; and glass shattered onto front porches across the street.

The house, with a market value of $103,710, according to the auditor’s website, was destroyed.

John and Kelly Goetz, who live in the 100 block of Stanford Avenue, said earlier in the day they smelled gas in the neighborhood, but could not confirm or deny that Columbia Gas investigated the source of the odor.

A Columbia Gas truck arrived at the scene about 45 minutes after the explosion.

Mike and Diane Page, along with their son Andrew Page, live at 112 Columbia.

“We were all sitting in the living room, there was a huge boom, the house went dark and began shaking,” Andrew Page said.

Mike and Diane Page sat on the front porch of the house across the street, watching firefighters enter their home to make sure it was safe.

“We have two cats,” Diane Page said, as her neighbor put shoes on her bare feet. “We were just watching TV and I was getting ready to make the Christmas menu. Merry Christmas.”

Mike Page stood on the porch wearing only a pair of jeans and a gray sweatshirt, but said he is thankful his family is alive and that no one was injured.

“The TV hit me and the Christmas tree went flying,” Mike Page said.

Diane Page said that they have family who live nearby and they will most likely be staying with them.

“We are fine, we have places to go. We will be OK,” Diane Page said.

In addition to the home owned by the Page family, a home at 118 Columbia Ave. was also damaged.

Demolition crews remained on the scene early this morning.

Kevin Brubaker, supervisor of the city Building Department, confirmed the house at 118 Columbia sustained too much damage and will have to be leveled.

Chris Mickolick, who resides at 118 Columbia, sat in a chair across the street, waiting for her home full of memories to disappear before her eyes on her birthday — Dec. 21.

“I have lived here since 1985, and so have the Pages. We had kids at the same time,” Mickolick said. “I want a front-row seat.”

Her son, Dan Mickolick, and his girlfriend, Kelly McDaniel, walked to the house to see if anything was salvageable. Dan Mickolick returned holding the house number of “118” sign that his mom painted.

Unsure of what the future holds, Chris Mickolick and her other son, Matt, will most likely stay with family until a permanent solution can be found.

“We will have to figure out our options and move on. It is what it is and it’s just stuff,” Chris Mickolick said.

Contact Melissa Linebrink at 329-7243 or mlinebrink@chroniclet.com.