The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Thursday, 02 January 2020 01:00cat

Explosion destroys three houses in Philadelphia

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Explosion destroys three houses in Philadelphia Explosion destroys three houses in Philadelphia NBC

At least one person is dead and more are missing after a gas explosion caused 3 row houses to collapse in Southern Philadelphia.

The blast occurred on the 1400 block of South 8th Street on Friday, December 20, 2019. The explosion damaged 2 additional buildings and created a sinkhole in the streets below. 

People that were near the block during the incident were terrified by the explosion. “I thought the terrorists had come,” Jennifer Romaniello, who lives across the street, said. According to Jeffrey Beres, general manager at Geno’s Steaks, the blast shook their building which is located a few blocks away. “I looked at the monitor to see if a car had run into the side of our building because the whole building shook,” Beres stated.

Officials from the Department of Licenses and Inspections and the Office of Emergency Management have not yet clarified the reasons for the explosion while authorities could not assume whether the blast was related to a gas leak. 

The streets around the affected areas were closed and gas was shut off as a precaution measure.

Rescue teams, including more than 120 firefighters, rushed at the scene in search of people trapped under the rubble. The attempts were extremely challenging due to fire, the structural damage the buildings had suffered and the debris that spread into the streets. According to Adam Thiel, Fire Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia, 60 people were evacuated from the affected area while 1-3 more may have been trapped.  "We have to bring in heavy equipment to start de-layering the collapsed building. While we're hopeful...unfortunately, we're probably in a recovery mode now," Thiel stated.

Firefighters managed to get into one of the collapsed buildings in an effort to rescue a person that was trapped but, unfortunately, they could not reach the victim's position and, thus, this person is presumed dead. “This is a real punch in the gut for our (first firefighters, who) really thought they were going to be able to make a rescue. They’re struggling with that outcome, as we all are,” Thiel added.

People that evacuated their residences were transferred to South Philadelphia High School where the American Red Cross coordinated their accommodation.

Sources: CNNAPInquirer


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