Saturday morning’s explosion in a residential suburb outside of Pittsburgh resulted in five fatalities and three injuries, marking at least the third time in the past 15 years that a residence has detonated in the borough, according to officials. Authorities reported that the detonation and large fire in Plum, Pennsylvania, a suburb northeast of Pittsburgh, destroyed three homes and damaged at least a dozen others. The first responders who raced to Plum discovered people confined beneath debris and transported three of them to a hospital. According to police, two of the three have been released, while the third remains hospitalized in critical condition.
The remains of five victims, including four adults and one child, were also discovered at the crime site. According to the county, the incident appeared to have begun when one house erupted, igniting two neighboring residences. Multiple additional residences sustained window damage. 18 fire departments converged on the scene to extinguish the fire and sift through the debris. It is unknown what caused the detonation. According to authorities, the cause is still being investigated.
According to Amie Downs, the communications director for Allegheny County, a second house detonation was reported in Plum in April of last year. Downs, the cause of that detonation is still being investigated. And in March 2008, according to an NTSB pipeline accident brief, a man was slain and a 4-year-old daughter was injured in a home explosion in the borough. According to the brief, two additional residences were destroyed and eleven were damaged as a result of the detonation.
Based to an NTSB report released eight months after the incident, the “probable cause” of the explosion was excavation damage to a natural gas distribution pipeline from a sewer line replacement in 2003 “that stripped the pipe’s protective coating and made the pipe susceptible to corrosion and failure.” Michael Huwar, the president of Peoples Natural Gas, stated that gas systems were “operating as designed” at the time of Saturday’s detonation. Nevertheless, as a precaution, gas service was cut off to a number of residences in the neighborhood.
A spokesperson for the company stated on Sunday that its employees continue to work and coordinate with the Allegheny County Fire Marshal, who is in charge of the investigation. A video obtained from a Ring doorbell appears to show one of the residences exploding in a fireball, sending up a dense plume of smoke and dispersing detritus throughout the area.
Aerial View of Devastation: Aftermath of Explosion and Fire Revealed
The aftermath of the explosion and fire can be seen in aerial footage of the neighborhood, which depicts three structures completely destroyed by fire and encircled by debris that covers the lawns and residences of the surrounding area. Several incinerated and smoldering automobiles could be seen near the scorched area. “I heard a ‘boom.'” It was noisy enough to wake me up. “I thought it was thunder from last night’s storms,” said a neighbor to WTAE. “My water container landed on me in an instant. I was trembling. It terrified me so much.”
According to the county, as of 4:30 p.m., the area was still classified as a “active scene” and first responders were expected to remain there for several hours. Authorities stated at a news conference that gas was cut off in the area while emergency personnel worked at the site, and that representatives from multiple gas companies were present. The Red Cross and Salvation Army are assisting residents affected by the explosion, according to the county.