East Cleveland house explosion likely caused by scrappers, authorities say

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio - A massive house explosion in East Cleveland on Sunday is believed to have been caused by a crew of scrappers who caused a natural gas leak during several trips back and forth to a scrap yard, say East Cleveland officials. The exact cause of the explosion is still being investigated, but authorities believe it was caused by four individuals who had tried to remove appliances from the house.

One woman died in the explosion. Her name has not been released. A second person, a 51-year-old man, is in critical condition at MetroHealth Medical Center's burn unit. 

Police said a third alleged scrapper who is also a suspect was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon. He was arrested while trying to sell a hot water tank to an elderly woman on the 1110 block of East 113th Street in Cleveland, authorities said.

RELATED: One person dead after house explosion in East Cleveland

The group's driver is in custody but has not been charged with any crimes. 

The explosion completely obliterated the home located at 1073 East 125th St. early Sunday afternoon. The blast leveled the home and sent a shockwave that was felt for miles. Neighboring houses near the epicenter of the explosion were deemed uninhabitable by authorities. Hundreds of homes were damaged in the explosion. Around ten residents were displaced.

According to authorities, the house was sold last month, but the new owners had yet to move in. 

The state Fire Marshall's Office has offered a  $5,000 reward for any information about the blast. CrimeStoppers has offered an additional $2,500 reward. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-589-2728. Authorities said they are investigating the explosion as a crime until it is proven otherwise. 

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