Officials in Philadelphia, PA are still trying to determine what caused a 12-inch, high-pressure gas main to explode last night, killing one person and injuring six others. Initially, a gas and water main break was reported at 6900 Torresdale Avenue in the Tacony neighborhood in northeast Philadelphia at about 7:19 p.m. The explosion occurred around 8:30.
The explosion, which was caught on tape by a local TV station, produced a gigantic fireball and sent debris flying in all directions.
The explosion spawned a three-alarm fire that was not brought under control until about 11:00 p.m. last night. The disaster prompted the evacuation of several dozen residents, and the Red Cross says 15 to 20 families were displaced. According to The Wall Street Journal, residents who had evacuated the area were allowed to return to homes and businesses near the site Wednesday.
Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) has confirmed that one of its employees was killed in the explosion, according to Fox 29. That worker and several other PGW employees were on the scene trying to shut off a ruptured main discovered after a neighborhood resident reported the smell of gas at 7:19 p.m.
Five PGW workers and one firefighter were taken to Aria Health’s Torresdale hospital. Three PGW employees were later transferred to a burn center at the Temple University Hospital, where they are in critical condition. The firefighter and two PGW workers were later released after receiving treatment.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is leading the investigation into the explosion with the help of the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, The Wall Street Journal said.