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Fire officials: Copper thieves likely caused home explosion

Fire officials say that copper thieves may have caused an explosion that leveled a home. The explosion happened early Monday morning at a home on Campbell Street, off West 5th.

When our crew arrived on the scene overnight, firefighters were searching through the rubble of the home.

Firefighters have since told us no one lived in the home, and it is believed to have been vacant at the time of the explosion.

Investigators believe copper thieves are likely to blame for the explosion. The copper on the water heater was stripped. Fire investigators say that the water heater fell over as a result and resulted in the gas leak.

"This is the damage that was left behind. This guy probably got $20 worth of copper and destroyed an $80,000 house," says Major Mark Blankenship, with the Lexington Fire Department.

Firefighters tell 27 News First that it's a relief that copper thieves may be to blame because they can likely eliminate the possibility of anyone intentionally causing this explosion.

"While this is still a criminal act, we think by stealing the copper and entering the house, we think the explosion is something secondary. They did it while committing the copper theft and not for the intent for the house to explode," adds Blankenship.

A meter reader with Columbia Gas says gas at the home had been turned off from June through December. It hadn't been used until this past Friday.

The explosion only caused minor damage to the home next door.

No one was injured.

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