No suspects were named in connection with the explosion in the Saddlebrook neighborhood that caused more than $6 million in damage. Oxendine said the homeowners, Brian and Deborah McDaniel, were cooperating in the investigation.
For exclusive details on the aftermath of the Saddlebrook house explosion, pick up the Wednesday, Aug. 25, print edition of the Calhoun Times.
Oxendine said his office had evidence showing where gas lines had been tampered with inside the home at 168 Saddle Mountain Drive.
“A person, or person unknown, was in that house and intentionally tampered with the gas lines,” said Oxendine. “We haven’t eliminated any (suspects).”
The tampering caused the house to fill up with natural gas. The igniting force remains a mystery, but Oxendine said what caused the spark may never be known. He said it was not known if the tampering occurred that day or at a different time and added that officials do not know how long it would have taken the three-story house to fill up with natural gas.
“We had engineers look at the evidence three and four times because we wanted to be make sure we had all the facts before we told residents this was intentional,” Oxendine said.
Calhoun Mayor Jimmy Palmer said there was some relief that it wasn’t an accident because of the fears that it could happen in any home.
Currently, a $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect, but Oxendine said he would like to see that amount increased.
Eight families were completely displaced in the April 15 explosion, which severely damaged several other homes in and around the Saddlebrook neighborhood. While some families are close to moving back into their homes, some have yet to begin rebuilding.
The blast left no serious injuries, but Gordon County Emergency Management Director Richard Cooper said the it was heard as far away as Carbondale and Plainville.
In June, Calhoun Fire Department Deputy Chief Terry Mills said gas was the culprit in the explosion.
Oxendine encouraged anyone with any information to call the arson hotline at 1-800-282-5804.
“You may not have enough for a conviction, but you might have enough to point investigators in the right direction,” he said.
“It’s been a long process,” said Palmer. “We will just move forward from here with all of us working together.”