OH – Ron SelakJr., Tribune Chronicle

An apparent natural gas explosion leveled a house Wednesday, breaking windows in neighboring homes and causing a stir among neighbors in this downtown neighborhood just south of Atlantic Street N.E.

No one was injured when the house at 844 Mercer Ave. N.E. burst into flames, sending shards of glass and other debris several feet into neighboring lawns. The mid-afternoon explosion startled many neighbors, who said the home has been vacant.

Fire Chief Ken Nussle said crews with Dominion East Ohio Gas will be at the home today to try and determine a cause and origin. There also are plans to pressure test the service lines and interior gas lines to ‘‘see if we can find out why we had a natural gas explosion.’’

A search of the county Auditor’s Web site did not identify the owner of the property.

Although investigators are leaning toward natural gas, Nussle said ‘‘that won’t be confirmed until investigators are able to get into the structure and do a preliminary investigation.’’

The chief said crews would be doing their best to secure the structure overnight, but since the explosion blew three of the four walls from the home, the best he expected could be done was to wrap the scene with crime tape and hope people stay away.

Homes at 836 Mercer Ave. N.E. and 204 Atlantic St. N.E. also received minimal damage, however, the residents were cleared to stay the night. Broken windows on the houses were set to be boarded.