MFD: "Starting from square one" in piecing house explosion scene - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

MFD: "Starting from square one" in piecing house explosion scene back together

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MADISON (WKOW) -- "The scene is shrinking down." That's the evaluation Madison Fire Chief Steve Davis gave at a news conference Saturday morning at the Stratton Way site where a house exploded Wednesday in Madison. 

He said investigators have moved a lot of the heavy debris out of the way but that they still won't know more of what they're dealing with until they get down to the basement floor of the structure. The chief added that small, compact debris is what they're concentrating on now and they're hoping by Monday to find more conclusive evidence. 

Chief Davis said they do not yet have an identification on the body that was found in the house.  He stresses that information will come from the Dane County Medical Examiner's office once their evaluation is finished. 

He said the site investigation is taking so long because it's very detailed work. "If you can think about a house with all kinds of different gas appliances, we have to put it back together using real good forensic detail to figure out how it was all working -- it just takes a lot of time."

He added that, "It's hard to understand how much procedure is involved to piece things back together...but we want to make sure we cover every base that we possibly can to make sure what happened."

Chief Davis says they're also concerned for the safety of the investigators who are working the scene.  "We're trying to give them the safest, cleanest space to work in."   

He additionally stressed that they're trying to be responsive to the neighborhood so that people who live nearby "can get back to their normal routine" as well. 

Structural experts have been brought in to inspect neighboring homes - but he says "Luckily, they're in good enough shape" to be lived in. He also said  "The goal is still to open High Point Road some time today. " Stratton Way, the road where the house exploded, is on Madison's southwest side, just off High Point Road and north of McKee Road. 

Inspectors from Madison Gas and Electric were also back on site Saturday morning as there's a chance gas could have been a factor in the explosion.  "They had access this morning and provided more testing at the scene. Initially after the explosion, they'd tested areas in the neighborhood and found that those were safe," Davis said. Saturday morning, he said, they simply did additional testing.  

The chief said criminal activity in the explosion might still be a factor. His department continues to work with Madison Police in that regard, saying "Captain Nelson and I haven't gotten to the point where we can rule that out." Captain Cory Nelson is captain of the West District precinct. After the explosion Wednesday, police said they were treating it as a criminal investigation until they could rule out criminal activity.  

Madison Fire Department Public Information Officer Cynthia Schuster said S High Point Road will remain closed through Saturday night. They hope to restore access between McKee Road and Raymond Road on Saturday.

Further fire department updates are expected throughout the day on Saturday and possibly into Sunday.  27 News will keep you informed of those as soon as that information becomes available. 

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