Orwell house fire accidental

House explosion in Orwell, Ohio

ORWELL, Ohio (AP) – A house explosion that killed a woman here and critically injured her boyfriend has been ruled accidental.

The Ohio State Fire Marshal’s office said the house in the village of Orwell was filled with natural gas that spread through the plumbing after a toilet continuously ran and its water well became empty.

The highway patrol said that the couple had been smelling gas for weeks, and that the house exploded Wednesday when resident James Ortiz lit a cigarette.

The blast gave Ortiz second and third-degree burns and killed his girlfriend, 27-year-old Malerie Nick of Fairport Harbor.

Residents as far as 5 miles away reported hearing the explosion.

Orwell is in southern Ashtabula County, just over the Trumbull County line.


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