5 dead, several hurt in Pennsylvania house explosion

5 dead, several hurt in Pennsylvania house explosion

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Five people were killed and several others injured in a house explosion Saturday in Plum, a suburb of Pittsburgh. The explosion destroyed three structures and damaged at least a dozen others, authorities said.

A person who was initially unaccounted for after the explosion was among the five dead, officials said Sunday. Police have not yet publicly identified the victims, but officials said one of the victims was an adolescent. 

A little before 10:30 a.m. Eastern time Saturday, 911 dispatchers received a call that multiple houses were on fire due to an explosion. Responding officers and firefighters arrived to find “people trapped under the debris,” Allegheny County officials reported. 

Four people were initially confirmed dead in the incident, Allegheny County officials reported on social media. The fifth fatality was confirmed during a Sunday press conference. Three others were hospitalized, two in stable condition and one in critical condition. 

In all, 57 firefighters were treated on scene for minor issues — many of them for heat exhaustion.

County spokesperson Amie Downs said emergency responders reported people trapped under debris after one house apparently exploded and two others were engulfed in flames. Crews from at least 18 fire departments were working to douse the flames with the help of water tankers from Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.

Officials told reporters at the scene that they don’t know exactly who was home and who may have had visitors at the time of the explosion, so they can’t give an exact number of people unaccounted for. The name of the people killed will be released by the county medical examiner’s office.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation. Plum and county law enforcement, as well as the county fire marshal’s office, are investigating, and the state public utilities commission and local utilities were also at the scene. Officials said the investigation will be a “slow and long process” that could last for months or years.

George Emanuele, who lives three houses down from the home that exploded, told the Tribune-Review that he and a neighbor went to the home before the fire got out of control, where they found a man laying in the backyard and dragged him away from the scene.

Rafal Kolankowski, who lives a few houses down, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the explosion broke the windows in his house and knocked him and his wife to the ground. After recovering and checking on his son, he went outside where he said a woman told him another woman had been upstairs and a man was in the basement. The other woman later emerged covered in white ash, but the individual in the basement had not yet exited, he said.

“It’s just tragic, I mean, it looks like a war zone — it looks like a bomb hit our neighborhood and it’s just unfortunate,” Kolankowski said. “I was just with some of the neighbors yesterday, right, and now this happens.”

Jeremy Rogers, who lives two doors down, told the paper he had been out shopping when he got an alert about a problem at his house and saw “all sorts of stuff flying around.” His family was able to get out safely, and he was allowed to go in quickly to rescue his dog. However, he wasn’t able to get the family’s three cats and hopes they are all right.



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