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Thursday
Feb102011

Pennsylvania Explosion Leaves Five Dead, Destroys Homes

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (ALLENTOWN, Pa.) -- The explosion that rocked Allentown, Pa. at 10:45 p.m. Wednesday has left five people dead.  Authorities say the five victims are a couple in their 70s, a four-month-old boy, a 16-year-old girl and one of the children's parents. The victims are from two families who lived in the two townhouses that were completely destroyed by the blast.

The explosion touched off fires that blazed into the early-morning hours as firefighters combed through snow and ice to stop an underground pipeline from feeding the flames.

Authorities said at least six homes will not be salvageable and two homes were entirely leveled. Forty-seven homes and 10 businesses were damaged as a result of the explosion, fire or ice and other conditions.

Utility workers inspected the area the day before the explosion and detected no leaks. The pipe which fed the explosion was installed in 1928 and Ed Pawlowski, the mayor of Allentown, said old and dangerous pipes run under many cities.

"Lines built over 150 years ago are still servicing a lot of these buildings today," Pawlowski said. "When you have constant thawing and freezing you're going to have problems...and lead to disasters like this."

UGI utility workers were called in to assist and get the gas lines shut off after the explosion on the 500 Block of North 13th Street. Snow piles and ice hampered firefighters as they attempted to put out the flames. UGI was unable to shut off the gas until 3:45 a.m.

The magnitude of the explosion and flames forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents. The cause of the explosion is being investigated.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio