Omaha, NE – Gas Sparked Explosion

The Omaha Channel – Investigators said someone intentionally caused a house to explode Tuesday night by drilling a hole in the wall and feeding a gas line into the house.

The man and woman inside the home at 113th and Ida streets were seriously injured.

One of the victims, Kenneth Topping, was scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday in Douglas County Court for two counts of sexual assault. He was accused of sexually assaulting two family members, including a young child. In July, he pleaded no contest. He faces up to 55 years in prison for the crimes.

There isn’t much left of the home. The worst damage is in the back. Investigators said a hose that is supposed to go from the gas line in the ground into a copper pipe was fed into the Toppings’ home. That tipped off rescuers that this was no accident.

Neighbor Asha Mobley said she heard and felt the home across the street from her explode Tuesday night.

“It shook the house. Shook the windows. The lights flicked on and off real quick,” she said.

Then, Mobley said, the people inside started screaming. A fireman and an employee of the mobile home park told Mobley not to help. They were there after a neighbor had called 911 to report the smell of natural gas. The park worker shut off the gas to the home, then the house exploded.

Sandy Myers said her mind went to the charges against Kenneth Topping the moment she heard about the explosion. She said she and other neighbors can’t be sure who cut the gas line, but they’re angry. The explosion that destroyed the Toppings’ house could’ve been much worse.

“Don’t take the rest of the neighborhood. It could’ve been what happened last night,” Myers said.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is handling the investigation and said it is too early to report more details.