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Cause still unknown, six months after El Reno house explosion

EL RENO, Okla. - Firefighters are no longer investigating a house explosion that rocked the city in April because they are unable to figure out what caused it.

Residents three blocks away reported hearing their windows rattle and feeling their floors shake in the neighborhood near El Reno's Hillcrest Park.

After consulting with the bomb squad, Oklahoma Natural Gas, the insurance company and a team of engineers, the fire department could not determine what sparked the explosion.

Investigators could tell the blast started in the basement, because of the way the home appeared to be lifted and shifted to one side.

"You want to pin down what caused it, but at the same time you don't want to come to an early conclusion and come up with a false determination," said Sgt. Jonathan Strahorn. "You don't want to make a 'pretty sure' guess on anything. This has a lot to do with their lives and insurance and you want to be sure."

The fire department was able to rule out a natural gas leak as the cause, but couldn't do the same for methane and gasoline.

Strahorn assures residents the area is safe, though he advises any one who is worried about an explosion to make sure they never store gasoline inside their homes and to check their older appliances.

"If you suspect or wonder, 'Hey is my appliance leaking? Do I have an old line to this?' That's when you call in your plumber just to make sure you don't have a leak," Strahorn said. "Don't just push it aside. Your life and your kids' lives are worth much more than a couple dollars."

Devon Woods still feels unease living across the street.

He can vividly remember the moment when he felt his house shake in April.

"It's always that little mystery in your head like how do we keep this from happening to our house when we don't even know what happened," he said.

The house is in pretty much the same condition as it was six months ago, Woods said. He'd like to see things cleaned up, to remove what he calls a "distraction" for the neighborhood.

"It's just crazy," he said. "Like how do you let this go in your neighborhood, you know?"

The woman who lived in the home is reportedly recovering from her injuries. The Oklahoma Insurance Department does not know the specifics of her plan, but says typical homeowners policies would cover this sort of damage when the cause of the explosion is undetermined.

The City of El Reno tells NewsChannel 4 the woman or her insurance company would have to foot the bill for demolition of the home, which the fire department says is the next step.