5 Killed, Houses Leveled in Pennsylvania Gas Explosion

Update: Firefighters now report 5 people killed by the tragic Allentown, PA gas explosion reported below. An 83-year-old gas pipe is being cited as the most likely cause of the Wednesday night explosion and fire.

A natural gas leak is the suspected cause of a deadly explosion and fire in Allentown, Pennsylvania late Wednesday night that killed at least one person and leveled several homes. Numerous people suffered burns and other personal injuries and were transported to the hospital. According to news reports, 5 people were still unaccounted for early this morning. Allentown firefighters continued to search through the rubble of several homes that were flattened by the blast. (Click here to watch a Reuters news service film clip of last night’s fiery scene.)

Echoing the scene of a January Philadelphia gas main explosion that killed one and injured 6 other people, last night’s explosion sent hundreds of frightened residents fleeing into the street as rescue workers evacuated near-by apartment buildings. The explosion appeared to have originated in a group of rowhouses. At least 2 rowhouses were reduced to rubble by the blast and another 6 rowhouses were severely damaged by fire.

A UGI Utilities spokesman told reporters that the 12-inch gas main that serves the neighborhood had no history of leaks and reported that no complaints of gas odor had been received. The Philadelphia gas explosion is still being investigated; but faulty pipe welds were found to be the cause of a similar California gas explosion last September that killed 8 people and destroyed 40 homes.

Investigations into gas main explosions are lengthy and involve multiple local, state and federal agencies. Burn victims suffer excruciating injuries that can take months to heal and may necessitate multiple skin grafts, lengthy treatment and additional months of rehabilitation. If you are the victim of a gas explosion or fire, contact Thepearcelaw.com immediately for a free case review.

Next time: Part 2 of our discussion on food-borne illness