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Noble County Man Killed In Building Explosion
Wednesday, June 23, 2021

COLUMBIA CITY – Indiana State Police say a Noble County man was killed in a building explosion in Columbia City on May 22.

Investigators say DNA testing has confirmed the identity of the individual as 34 year old Zachery Sparkman of LaOtto. The manner and cause of death has not yet been officially released by the Northeast Indiana Forensic Center who conducted the autopsy.

Multiple police and fire agencies were called at 9 AM on May 22 to a reported building explosion at 515 North Line Street in Columbia City. First responders found a warehouse that was fully engulfed in flames. Police and fire personnel discovered there were three adults in and around the building at the time of the initial explosion. Two of them were able to get out of the structure with only minor injuries, while one man was trapped inside. Several adjacent business and residential structures were damaged by the fire, which was finally put out around 2:30 PM.

An investigation of the building by the Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office determined that all of the natural gas lines in the building were tested. Several of the connections were found with minor leaks, probably from the explosion and fire. A gas valve located along the back wall was examined and a more significant leak was discovered.

The valve was near where Sparkman's body was found. Sparkman was a known smoker. Investigators say all the evidence shows there was an unintentional gas leak ignited by an independent ignition source.

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