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The house explosion Wednesday on Youngstown’s South Side, which shattered windows on several neighboring homes, was caused by thieves who stole a stove, allowing the house to fill with gas.
Youngstown Fire Capt. Alvin Ware said Thursday investigators believe a thief stole the stove at 535 Cohasset Drive. The home filled with natural gas, which was left on despite the home being vacant for more than one month.
Ware said a refrigerator in the home was previously stolen.
Youngstown Choice Homes, which buys homes and rents them to low-income residents with the intent to help them buy the home, leaves utilities on at vacant homes so they remain in good condition.
There are 300 Choice Homes houses in the city, about 20 of which are vacant.
Another Choice Homes house on Atkinson Avenue exploded two years in similar fashion and because of a gas leak. They rebuilt that home, but officials said they are unsure if they will rebuild the Cohasset Drive home.
The organization is responsible for cleaning up the wreckage.
Some Youngstown residents thought the explosion was an earthquake. An elderly couple was rescued from a home next door.
The explosion damaged nearby homes and debris littered the street. No one suffered injuries because of the explosion.
Windows were shattered on a home across the street and a church on Rosedale Avenue near the house.
A piece of the porch ended up across the street and glass and parts of the roof ended up on neighbor’s roofs.