Cause of home explosion remains unclear

Posted at 3:30 PM, Jul 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-26 18:30:43-04

The cause of a home explosion that killed an Omaha woman still hasn't been released.  OPD homicide investigators have been on scene at 65th & Sprague St. but they haven't determined if it's criminal or accidental.

Tuesday afternoon, city crews cleaned up debris in the street to get N. 65th St. back open 24 hours after an explosion took the life of Clara Bender, 30, an inspector for CPM Realty.

The crime tape remained up for much of the day almost around the entire block.  It's being called a joint investigation by the Omaha Police Department and Omaha Fire Department.  Both are looking into leads as to the cause, and if it’s accidental or criminal is still unknown.

Court documents reveal on three occasions this year the previous tenant, Kiwana Toussaint, received eviction notices and in June they acted upon the court order.

"Often times the tenant is locked out of the house with belongings inside, then the landlord and the tenant have to make some arrangements for the tenant to remove their things,” said John Chatelain, an attorney for CPM Realty.

Bender would go into rental properties after a tenant moved out and assessed what needed to be fixed.  She reportedly allowed Toussaint to move her stuff out recently.  Monday, Bender went back to check the property.

Jeremy Apsen, President of CPM, says the explosion was more likely an accident.  Authorities have not confirmed that.

OFD's early report indicates there were no contents of value inside the home when it exploded.

"Any person that goes to check on a property this could've been them, and we certainly feel for Clara Bender and her family,” Chatelain described.

Brenda Beadle, Chief Deputy Douglas Co. Attorney, says it's too early to speculate if charges are warranted or not until they know the cause of the explosion.