Explosion destroyed three homes and damaged several others
A massive house explosion in Plum, a suburb northeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, left five people dead and three injured on Saturday morning, according to county officials. The blast destroyed three houses and damaged at least a dozen more, shattering windows and sending debris flying.
The explosion occurred shortly before 10:30 a.m. local time near the intersection of Rustic Ridge and Brookside drives. Witnesses reported hearing a loud boom and feeling the ground shake. Some said they saw flames and smoke rising from the site of the explosion.
The victims were four adults and one adolescent, who were found dead at the scene. Their identities have not been released yet. Three other people were taken to a hospital, where one remains in critical condition. The other two have been released.
Cause of the explosion is still under investigation
The cause of the explosion is still unknown, but authorities said they are looking into all possible factors, including gas leaks, electrical issues, or intentional acts. They said they have not found any evidence of foul play so far.
Michael Huwar, the president of Peoples Natural Gas, the gas service provider in the area, said the gas system was “operating as designed” at the time of the explosion. He said there were no reports of gas odors or leaks before or after the incident. He also said the company has shut off gas service to several homes in the neighborhood as a precaution.
Steve Imbarlina, deputy director of fire and emergency services for Allegheny County, said the investigation will take time and require cooperation from multiple agencies, including the state police, the fire marshal, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Community rallies around those affected by the tragedy
As families pick up the pieces, the rest of the Plum community is stepping up with food, water, boxes, and anything else they could need. Several local businesses and organizations have offered their support and donations to help the victims and first responders.
Plum Borough Mayor Harry Schlegel said he was heartbroken by the loss of life and property. He praised the efforts of the emergency crews who responded to the scene and worked tirelessly to contain the fire and rescue survivors.
He also thanked the residents for their resilience and solidarity. He said he was proud of how they came together in this difficult time.
“We’re Plum strong,” he said. “We’re going to get through this.”