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On Scene, The Search For Clues In South Charlotte Home Explosion

Investigators continued searching the rubble of a south Charlotte home Wednesday as they try to learn what caused an explosion Tuesday that killed one person and seriously hurt another. 

The Ballantyne Country Club neighborhood was quiet, apart from the sound of an occasional power tool or a fire truck backing up. Yellow police tape blocked James Jack Lane and nearby yards, as neighbors wandered by to see the debris. Many heard the explosion Tuesday afternoon. Jeff Miller was pressure washing his house, about 400 yards away across a golf course fairway.

Jeff Miller lives across a golf course fairway from the home and saw the blast. He stopped by Wednesday for a look with his dog, Rosey.
Credit David Boraks / WFAE
Jeff Miller lives across a golf course fairway from the home and saw the blast. He stopped by Wednesday for a look with his dog, Rosey.

"It rattled the house, rattled me, and I turned around I could see a massive cloud of smoke rising up. And so I just dropped what I was doing, took off, ran across the fairway towards the house, to see if I could render assistance or help at all," Miller said. "A couple other neighbors ran over there, too. Once we reached the house and saw the devastation, we knew, with the capability we had, there would be very little we could do to help out. "

[Related: Probable Cause Of Ballantyne Home Explosion Determined]

Even with the right equipment, it took rescuers a while to pull out the injured man, Jebran Karam. And it was almost seven hours before they found the body of 58-year-old Rania Karam. Fire officials say they were the only people in the home. 

Two neighbors also were treated at the scene for minor injuries when the blast shook and damaged surrounding houses. 

Meanwhile, neighbors are speculating about what caused the explosion. Here's Kristen Miller, Jeff's wife: "We would like to know what happened. Of course we're patient and willing to wait, because that's what we have to do. But I think a lot of people are concerned that there may be something coming into the neighborhood with gas and just would like to know the other surrounding homes are safe," she said.

The Karams' home and others in the neighborhood have gas lines, including gas heating systems. Piedmont Natural Gas says it's cooperating in the investigation, but that technicians have found no leaks in gas lines or pipelines in the area. Gas service remains on. 

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