“Five Dead, Including Municipal Officials, in Pennsylvania House Explosion”

By | August 16, 2023

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The cause of a home explosion in Plum, Pennsylvania that killed five people, including two municipal officials, is still under investigation. The owners of the home were having issues with their hot water tank. The blast destroyed three structures and damaged several others. The explosion occurred on Saturday morning at a home owned by the town’s community development director and her husband. The husband suffered severe burns and remains in critical condition. The cause of the explosion is being investigated by the fire marshal’s office and local law enforcement. ABC30 Fresno reported

The photograph above depicts the aftermath of a devastating explosion that took place in Plum, Pennsylvania. Authorities have revealed that the homeowners were experiencing difficulties with their hot water tank, although the exact cause of the explosion, which tragically claimed the lives of five individuals, including two municipal officials, remains under investigation.

The explosion, which occurred on Saturday morning, resulted in the complete destruction of three buildings and caused significant damage to numerous others. The property in question was owned by Heather Oravitz, the community development director of Plum, and her husband. Plum is located approximately 20 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Mayor Harry Schlegel of Plum confirmed that the blast claimed the lives of Oravitz, aged 51, and Plum Borough Manager Michael Thomas, aged 57. Additionally, three other individuals residing in the neighborhood, namely Kevin Sebunia, aged 55, Casey Clontz, aged 38, and Clontz’s 12-year-old son, Keegan, also perished. Heather Oravitz’s husband, Paul, sustained severe burns across his body and is currently in critical condition in the hospital. Two others injured in the explosion were treated and subsequently discharged.

Upon arrival at the scene, emergency responders discovered individuals trapped under debris. One house was leveled, and two others were ablaze. Fifty-seven firefighters received treatment at the site for minor issues, as reported by an Allegheny County official.

Investigations into the cause of the explosion are being conducted by the Allegheny County fire marshal’s office, in collaboration with local law enforcement. Authorities have cautioned that the process will be meticulous and time-consuming.

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In a statement released on Monday, the fire marshal’s office acknowledged the reported issues with the hot water tank. The agency intends to explore the cause of the blast, taking into consideration the hot water tank problem, as well as all other potential factors.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the development where the explosion occurred is situated on abandoned mine land, surrounded by shallow oil and gas wells that are either still in production or abandoned. Although two active gas wells are located within approximately 1000 feet of the affected property, and a pipeline runs behind the development, none of these structures have been identified as being involved in the blast.

Michael Huwar, the president of Peoples Gas, stated that official company checks indicated that their system was functioning as intended.

The state Public Utility Commission confirmed on Tuesday that it has been overseeing the integrity tests of nearby lines conducted by the utility company. The commission has also been conducting interviews with utility employees, first responders, residents, and coordinating the collection of evidence at the scene, including natural gas service lines and meters.

As of Sunday afternoon, electrical service had been restored to all homes, except for the three that were destroyed, and gas service had been reinstated to all residences, except for the area where the explosion took place and two auxiliary roads, according to a county spokesperson..

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