Wednesday, March 1, 2017

An explosion and fire at an apartment in Medina, oHIO that killed a mother and her son earlier this month was caused by a natural gas leak

MEDINA, Ohio - An explosion and fire at an apartment in Medina that killed a mother and her son earlier this month was caused by a natural gas leak within the building, according to a preliminary ruling from the State Fire Marshal.

While an official ruling on the final cause could still be days or weeks away, Dan Gladish, the chief building official for Medina said a 1/2 inch gas valve was open and it wasn't capped.

Gladish said the valve was not in use, and at one time, was connected to a gas dryer.

The building official believes natural gas poured into an apartment for at least two hours before the explosion.

"A 50 cent cap or a 50 cent plug could have most likely prevented this from happening," Gladish said.

The explosion happened at the Medina Village Apartments on Springbrook Drive on Feb. 9.

Jacob Harley Drake, 18, died as a result of the fire. Authorities said he had special needs and was confined to a wheelchair.

His mother, Sheila Drake, was pronounced dead on Feb. 20. As of Tuesday morning, her husband, Robert Drake, was in fair condition at MetroHealth Medical Center.

The blast also left numerous families homeless.

Several days after the explosion, gas company inspectors found more than 80 gas leaks throughout the complex, including 10 that were similar to the interior leak where the explosion happened, Gladish told News 5.

"There were 10 uncapped valves, so if we find that an uncapped valve and wide open valve led to this disaster, it could have happened 10 more times."

Management at the apartment complex referred questions to an attorney, Thomas Cabral.

Cabral said an investigation is on-going and that he would comment "down the road."


MEDINA, Ohio - An 18-year-old man was killed in an early morning apartment fire in Medina.

Emergency crews were called to the Medina Village Apartments at Springbrook Drive around 3:15 a.m. Thursday for a report of an explosion.

An 18-year-old, who had special needs and was confined to a wheelchair, was pronounced dead at the scene.

His parents were badly burned. They were taken to MetroHealth Medical Center in critical condition.

The Medina fire chief originally told News 5 the mother had died at the hospital. However, at 11:30 a.m. a MetroHealth Medical Center spokesperson said the woman was still listed in critical condition.

The apartment building was destroyed. About 20 residents are now displaced.

The Ohio State Fire Marshal responded to the scene to investigate.

Gas crews are trying to figure out what could have caused the fire. The Medina Fire Departments said it hasn't responded to any gas leaks or calls at this complex in at least a year. A few weeks ago, crews performed some work on water lines and the city said the building inspection showed no further problems.

According to the American Red Cross, eight families were displaced by the fire, affecting 18 people. They're providing food, clothing, shelter and financial assistance.

Residents Hannah Morabito,17, and her mother Lori Morabito,53, are among the residents affected by the fire.The mother was trapped under a wall and cinder blocks that collapsed. Hannah had to pull her mother out of the rubble.

Crews now working to recover body of 18-year-old. Chief says parents tried to save him, but were unable. @wews— Sarah Phinney (@sarahphinneytv) February 9, 2017

Columbia Gas issued a statement Thursday afternoon:

Our crews conducted a thorough investigation of our natural gas main and service lines that serve the area and confirmed that they are safe. While the cause of the incident is not known at this time, based on our investigation, our natural gas main lines and service lines were not the source of this incident.

Read the full statement below.

Columbia Gas Statement on Medina

The Medina United Church of Christ is taking donations from February 10 through February 24 for victims of the fire and the Red Cross is assisting 18 people from 8 families.