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Explosion and Building Collapse in Philadelphia


PHILADELPHIA (MyFoxPhilly) - Authorities say eight people have been injured, one critically, during an explosion that leveled at least one row home and damaged others Monday morning in South Philadelphia.

We're told at least four row homes were damaged and parts of three collapsed during the blast that was reported at 11:09 a.m.

SkyFox overhead showed one building appears to be completely down, another was heavily damaged, and debris was blown onto the street and alley on the even-numbered side of Daly Street's 400 block.

Deputy Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer said just before 1:30 p.m. that there is an ongoing gas leak at the scene, and PGW is there working to stop the leak.

"Right now, we're just trying to make sure that the scene is secure, everybody is safe, and let PGW do their work," Sawyer said.

Eight people were taken to hospitals. Authorities say the critically-injured patient was a contractor who told them on the way to the hospital that he was working on a hot water heater in an uninhabited house that was being renovated. He's expected to be transported to Temple University Hospital for more treatment.

The other seven patients, including two children, are said to be in stable condition. At least two people have already been treated and released. The rest are expected to be released too, says Jefferson Hospital.

Philadelphia police immediately asked people to stay out of the area near 300 to 400 blocks of Jackson Street, the 400 block of Daly Street, and the 300 to 400 blocks of Snyder Avenue.

Residents of the 400 blocks of Daly and Wolf Street were evacuated and directed to the Taggart School located at Fourth and West Porter streets.

The American Red Cross responded to the school to provided assistance. There were around a dozen people there at 1 p.m., but the Red Cross says it expects up to 100 evacuees with people out of about 70 homes.

Emergency responders set up a command center at 4th and Wolf.

FOX 29's Dave Schratwieser spoke to a witness at the scene who was half a block away and said, "It was definitely an explosion." He reported hearing it, then looking out the window and seeing the back of the building blown into the street.

That witness said he saw at least one man come outside and get hosed down by firefighters.

Another witness, Carol McKenna, who lives just a few doors down from the scene, said, "I definitely felt my whole house shake."

"The first thing -- what I heard was a loud explosion. My house shook, and I didn't know whether to look outside or not look outside," McKenna said.

When she did look, she saw the street was full of debris, she could smell gas and she could see flames coming out of one of the houses, so she called 9-1-1.

McKenna said one home was being rehabilitated, but someone was living in the second home.

She also saw a woman who lived in one of the damaged homes passing a baby through the collapsed area where that home's storm door used to be.

FOX 29's Chris O'Connell spoke with a mother who said her 15-year-old daughter is listed in fair condition. "We lost everything," the mother said.

Another building collapse evacuee said, "I thought a car crashed into the front of my house."

Officials are also going door to door looking for pets.

Sawyer said rescuers at a collapse scene have to be careful while searching for survivors and removing debris, being mindful of the potential for a secondary collapse.

"Considering three dwellings collapsed, no fatalities, I think we have to be thankful for that," the deputy fire commissioner said.


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