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House explosion leads to water leak lawsuit

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News Mitchell,South Dakota 57301
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House explosion leads to water leak lawsuit
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

A local lawsuit claims water service to a home that exploded was not properly shut off and continued leaking eight months after the house was demolished.

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Kayla Fluth, Mitchell, claims her home sustained water damage after a neighboring home exploded last year and its water pipes were not properly shut off.

She is suing two companies and an individual. Fluth lives next to the property on West Second Avenue where a house exploded in June 2012.

In April and May 2013, eight months after the property was torn down, Fluth alleged that she noticed water seeping through the wall into her westside basement. She thought it was normal ground water, but noticed in June the neighboring lot was flooded.

Fluth claims one of her neighbors also had an unusually damp basement and thought there was a broken water line.

Fluth called police, who called the city's water department. The city of Mitchell in July cut down a tree blocking the water shut-off valve at the site where the exploded home was demolished, and Krohmer Plumbing shut off the water at the curb. After that, Fluth said she did not have further issues with water.

In her lawsuit, Fluth is suing Mitchell businesses Krohmer Plumbing and Schoenfelder Construction, and Larry Weisser, who owned the home at 808 W. Second Ave. that exploded.

The blast did not destroy the house but did cause significant structural damage, said Detective Lt. Don Everson, of the Mitchell Police Division. He said the case is still under investigation because evidence at the scene led to the explosion being deemed suspicious. He declined to comment further on the case, other than to say the explosion appeared to be linked to natural gas.

Fluth alleges Krohmer Plumbing was on the property of the exploded home when it was being demolished, but could not turn the property's water off because a tree blocked access. She claims Schoenfelder Construction then bent a water pipe and hammered it shut. The complaint alleges a Mitchell Water Department representative asked Weisser, the property owner, what to do about the water line. Fluth alleges Weisser responded, "Let's not worry about it right now."

Fluth is demanding compensatory and punitive damages, plus interest and attorney fees, and costs and other legal fees.

Krohmer Plumbing, in a response to the claims, denied any act of fraud or negligence and requested the complaint be dismissed with prejudice and it recover costs and legal fees.

Neither Weisser nor Schoenfelder Construction has filed a response.