UNITED STATES

House explosion outside Pittsburgh leaves 4 dead, 3 injured and 1 missing, officials say

Aug 13, 2023, 10:00 AM

(CNN) — An explosion in a residential suburb outside Pittsburgh on Saturday morning left four pe...

Two firefighters stand on the debris around the smoldering wreckage of the the three houses that exploded near Rustic Ridge Drive and Brookside Drive in Plum, Pa., on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023. (Samuel Long/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Samuel Long/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

(CNN) — An explosion in a residential suburb outside Pittsburgh on Saturday morning left four people dead, three injured and one missing, county officials said.

The explosion and large fire in Plum, Pennsylvania, a suburb northeast of Pittsburgh, destroyed three houses and damaged at least a dozen more, authorities said.

First responders who rushed to Plum found people trapped under debris and took three people to a hospital. Of the three people injured, two were in stable condition and have been released, and the third is in the hospital in critical condition, according to police.

The incident appeared to begin when one house exploded, engulfing two neighboring homes in flames as well, according to the county. Multiple other homes were damaged with windows blown out.

Crews from 18 different fire departments converged on the scene to put out the flames and sift through the rubble as “several” people remained unaccounted for Saturday afternoon.

It’s unclear what triggered the explosion. Authorities say the cause is still under investigation.

Still, as a “precaution,” gas service has been shut off to around 50 homes in the neighborhood, according to an update Sunday from the gas supplier, Peoples Natural Gas. A company spokesperson told CNN on Sunday its crews continue to work and coordinate with the Allegheny County Fire Marshal, which is leading the investigation.

Ring doorbell video obtained by CNN affiliate WTAE appears to show one of the homes exploding in a ball of fire, shooting up a thick plume of smoke and scattering debris in the area.

The aftermath of the blast and blaze can be seen in aerial footage of the neighborhood, which shows three structures completely burned to the ground, surrounded by heavy debris covering surrounding lawns and homes. Several cars near the scorched area could also be seen charred black and smoking.

“I heard this ‘boom.’ It was so loud that it woke me up. I thought it was thunder from the storms last night,” neighbor Alexis Typanski told WTAE. “My water bottle fell on me instantaneously. I was shaking. It scared me so bad.”

By 4:30 p.m. local time, the area was still considered an “active scene” and first responders were expected to remain there for hours, according to the county. Plum is about 15 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Gas was turned off in the area while emergency crews worked at the scene, authorities said at a news conference, adding multiple representatives from different gas companies were at the scene.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army are assisting residents impacted by the explosion, the county said.

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House explosion outside Pittsburgh leaves 4 dead, 3 injured and 1 missing, officials say