Homeowners near site of blast worry about structural damage

The living room wall of Shirley Quathamer’s two-story home has cracks running along a window and ceiling that didn’t exist before this past weekend.

Saturday night’s deadly explosion in Richmond Hill shook the homes of Quathamer and her neighbors in Sherman Commons, a subdivision less than a mile away. The shock wave, which might have been detected by Indiana University’s earthquake sensors, knocked pictures off of walls and mantels, and Quathamer thinks it’s also the reason an 18-inch crack now runs vertically along her living room window and why she has cracks forming along the ceiling.

Now Quathamer must decide whether to file an insurance claim. She doesn’t like the thought of paying the cost of the deductible, but she also worries that small cracks in her home can turn into big ones.

“Once something like that starts, you never know,” she said.

While more than two dozen homes near the Richmond Hill explosion have been declared uninhabitable, it’s unlikely homes a quarter-mile or more outside of the center of the explosion would have had structural damage to their foundations because of the shock wave, Johnson County chief building official Wes Harris said.

Still, if residents have concerns about anything from their foundations to their roofs, they should call a state-licensed home inspector or a foundation company, Harris said.

And the sooner residents whose homes were damaged from the explosion file insurance claims the better, Farm Bureau Insurance director of claims Karen Tiede and Green Owens Insurance co-owner Jim Wise said. They haven’t received any claims from their clients from the explosion.

“Now is the time to look,” Tiede said.

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