Plum explosion: One dead after house blast 'like a war zone' in Pennsylvania

Plum explosion: One dead after house blast ‘like a war zone’ in Pennsylvania

Three people are missing after a massive explosion at a resident in Plum, Pennsylvania. Another three people were injured when two nearby homes became engulfed in flames

One person is dead, several are missing and others are critically injured after a huge home explosion that could be heard several miles away left a street looking like a “war zone.”

People were found trapped under debris by first responders after a 911 call reporting a “house explosion with multiple injuries and several houses on fire” was made at 10.23am local time in Plum, Pennsylvania. Officials later said one was critically injured and two others were listed as stable. More than 20 firefighters were evaluated, many for heat exhaustion.

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.

Firefighters assessing the scene noted one house appears to have exploded and two nearby become engulfed in flames. More than a dozen more homes are damaged and some have their windows blown out. The door to one house nearby is visibly bent inwards.

“Three have been transported to local hospitals and three others are currently unaccounted for,” Allegheny County spokesperson Amie Downs said earlier.

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.”

The scene remains active after 18 fire departments responded to urgent emergency calls along with Allegheny County Fire Marshals.

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 person killed will be released by the county medical examiner’s office.

A video appears to show firefighters tackling and assessing a blaze on a residential street. Further footage shows mystified locals miles away from the scene confused at the sound of a large bang. Drone footage shows smoke billowing into the sky.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with the Plum residents impacted by an explosion and fires in their neighbourhood this morning.

“Our emergency services team are on scene along with our fire marshals. We stand ready to provide any resources necessary for this community.”

It is not yet clear what caused the explosion. Gas units are on the scene to make sure gas lines are secured. Peoples Gas said in a statement: “Our crews are on site and have turned off the gas to the affected area.

“Our first priority is the safety of the public and our employees, and we are working closely with local and state responders at the scene. We will share additional information when we know more.”

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. Jeremey said the status of his three cats is currently unknown, however.

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