Investigation Continues in West Union Street Explosion

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The State Fire Marshall and Columbia Gas continue to look for answers in what caused a West Union Street building to partially collapse.

Firefighters examine the damage after an apparent explosion partially collapsed a building on West Union Street in Athens, Ohio on April 15, 2018.

On Sunday evening, building housing Cycle Path Bicycles and apartments collapsed leaving one student injured, and seven homeless. The condition of the student transported to O’Bleness Hospital has not been released. Many witnesses reported the injured student had mild to severe burns.

Robert Rymer, chief of the Athens Fire Department, is estimating about $150,000 worth of damage to the building. First responders believe this is a total loss.

Rymer believes it was an explosion that caused roughly 25 to 50% of the building to collapse.

“From the initial evidence we received from the initial call, the sound as well as the evidence of what the scene looked like when we were down there, I am understanding it was an explosion,” Rymer said.

Only a few of the residents were in the building at the time of the accident.

“I got a call from a classmate who lives two doors down,” Bennis Pavision, a first-year medical student at Ohio University said. “He just messaged me on Facebook and asked, ‘hey are you alive?’”

Pavisian says he’s lucky to be alive.

“I might be walking on borrowed time right now,” Pavisian said. “Something could’ve happened.”

While some of the apartments only sustained minor damage, Pavisian wasn’t so lucky.

“All my furniture is obviously destroyed,” Pavisian said. “My computer, my books, my med school books, my stethoscope, all that stuff is pretty much gone.

Pavisian is looking for a place to live for the remainder of the semester.

“I’m still at the hotel for one more night, and then I don’t know,” Pavisian said.