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Neighborhood Rattled By Explosion
By Lori Monsewicz, Repository, April 29, 2000

The glow of a late-night TV screen faded fast just after midnight Wednesday when a loud blast and an orange glow momentarily filled the Fourth Street end of De Mario Court NW. "I thought it was a bomb," said Chester H. Welsch, who had been watching television with his sister, brother and a nephew at 2538 Fourth St. NW when the single boom occurred at 1:05 a.m. "A big orange flash come down there and knocked all the windows out." On Friday afternoon, neighbors still didn't know the source of the noise, and neither did police, who took reports from 2538 and 2542 Fourth St. NW. Residents there said electric company employees called by police came out and checked a nearby transformer located on a utility pole at the intersection, but detected no trouble. The homes sustained no outages. Tom Lukowski, Canton district manager for the American Electric Power Co., said Friday that he could find no reports of any problems in the 2500 block of Fourth Street NW from Tuesday through Thursday. "I don't know who's reporting what, but we can't confirm anything at this point," he said.

Still neighbors are at a loss trying to figure out what caused the blast that shook their homes and damaged belongings inside. Two windows in each house on either side of De Mario at Fourth Street were shattered. Wall hangings on 2538 fell to the floor and broke. Chrissy Bailey, who lives across De Mario at 2542 Fourth St., said everything fell off her fireplace. "It was loud; it was really loud. I'm not sure how to explain (what the sound was like)," she said, adding that she, too, had been watching television when she heard it. "The whole house shook." Bailey said that everyone on the block ran up to her house to see what happened. "It lit up the whole alley like it was daytime for a second," said her brother-in-law, Chris Rogers. Rogers, Bailey and Welsch said the neighborhood is normally quiet. The playground and parking lot for Clarendon Elementary School lies across the street. Although the next-door neighbors said they could not guess what could have caused the sound, which produced no visible damaged in the littered De Mario Court, Bailey ruled out a backfire by a passing car. "There weren't any cars around," she said, "but there are a lot of teen-agers in this neighborhood, so I don't know." Then, she shook her head and discounted the theory. "That was too loud. It had to be something else."