Alleged gas explosion in Philadelphia destroys 2 houses, damages others, injures 5 people

PHILADELPHIA– Five people were injured, one critically, in an explosion at a row house in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia early Sunday morning.

Firefighters say the blast happened before 3 a.m. on New Year’s Day on Miller Street and East Atlantic Street, leveling two houses and badly damaging others.

The blast also blew out windows and sent cars flying across the block.

Chris Heisenger was driving down the street with his girlfriend when the explosion happened.

“When I get out of the car, I step over piles of concrete,” said Heisenger. “I remember everything. The smell, the taste of the rubble, it’s still in my head.”

He returned to the scene on Sunday morning with bloodied clothes and a cut on his cheek from a piece of broken glass. He had driven to Wawa for a late-night snack when the block was reduced to rubble within seconds.

“Well, I had my head turned to her and I was like, ‘We’re going to Wawa,’ and out of nowhere it was like a loud bang and I just felt my whole car hit the curb,” he said.

According to the fire department, a gas leak in one of the houses was probably the cause.

“It was like a bomb, like a baboom! It shook the whole house. It’s almost indescribable,” said a neighbor named Karen, who didn’t come out of her front door.

“There was debris coming out of the sky and my god I was running up the street. There was a car that had twisted in the middle of the street,” said Tim Bolli, who described the block like a war scene.

Neighbors helped pull each other out of the rubble. According to the fire department, three people had to be rescued and taken to the hospital.

“We were able to pull out two people who had somewhat extricated themselves from the blast and we had one person that we had to dig out of the rubble,” said Assistant Fire Chief Charles Walker.

“It’s very rare for the scale of this type of damage to occur as you may be seeing on some of your cameras, cars are being pushed onto the street, windows are being blown out and it’s really a blessing to have no loss of life,” he said he walker.

As crews searched the rubble, neighbors said they were lucky to be alive.

“That’s why I never take anything for granted the next day, I just take each day as it comes,” said Heisenger.

Copyright © 2023 WPVI-TV. All rights reserved. Alleged gas explosion in Philadelphia destroys 2 houses, damages others, injures 5 people

Laura Coffey

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