Columbia City, IN – The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office says it found no evidence of foul play in the May 22 explosion that destroyed a warehouse, killing one man inside the building.
The Whitley County coroner now reports, based on DNA test results, the victim inside the old R & D Motorsports building is 34-year old Zachary Sparkman of Noble County.
ABC21 had spoken to Sparkman’s widow, Jasmine Sparkman, weeks back and reported the identity at that time.
Authorities are still not releasing a cause or manner of death, saying that will come when the official autopsy results are finalized.
The explosion and fire are something that people living in Columbia City will remember for some time.
The blast was so powerful it broke garage doors and windows in homes nearby.
Investigators initially thought the incident was triggered by a natural gas leak.
Investigators are now going on the record saying they examined all of the natural gas lines in the building and found evidence of a leak.
They noted that and that Sparkman was known to be a smoker.
“Their report shows that there was a (gas) valve located near the victim’s location, and that had the most significant sign of a leak, still nothing appeared to be manipulated, but (there was) a leak at that point,” said Indiana State Police Sgt. Brian Walker.
We asked Sgt. Walker about the comment in the report, that Sparkman had a smoking habit.
“Yeah, that could lend to the cause of the explosion, but we don’t know that at this point,” he said.
A summary of the fire marshal’s findings indicates no sign anybody tampered with the building’s natural gas system.
Two other people had been inside the building in the moments before the explosion, but they escaped without injury.