Officials: 2016 Fitchburg home explosion result of natural gas leak

In an update to neighbors Wednesday night, city officials said an August 2016 home explosion in Fitchburg was caused by a natural gas leak, but questions still surround the events leading up to it.

An executive summary put out by the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation determined the explosion was the result of a natural gas leak.

“DCI determined the leak occurred at an uncapped gas line where a dryer had once been located,” according to the report.

This is the first time officials have revealed an official cause for the explosion that destroyed a home on Cheryl Drive on Aug. 25, 2016, injuring its occupant, 57-year-old Brian Grittner, and damaging more than 20 surrounding homes.

Despite the lengthy investigation, the DCI has classified the explosion event as “undetermined,” as questions remain over the events that led up to it.

According to the report, a gas valve was found in the open position. Grittner told the DCI that earlier that day he had turned on a black valve connected to a water spigot, according to the report.

However, Grittner’s lawyer, Dan Rottier told DCI that Grittner had “opened the gas valve,” according to the report.

“DCI couldn’t rule out that Grittner made a mistake during his original statement and actually walked over to where the red handled gas line was located behind the dryer and turned on the gas valve,” according to the statement.

Grittner filed a lawsuit against Sears and an appliance installation company in October.

The complaint said the installer, who it claims didn’t have a valid license to operate the delivery truck, failed to cap the gas line after removing an old gas dryer and replacing it with an electric one in June 2011.