A thunderous explosion rocked a Philadelphia neighborhood, injuring five people — one critically — and leveling at least two homes just hours into 2023, according to city fire officials.
The Sunday eruption that blew out windows and doors and sent cars flying — on top of the two wiped-out homes — appeared to be from a gas leak, fire officials said.
Two people were pulled from the rubble and three others were treated at the scene before being taken to the hospital, the Philadelphia Fire Department reported about the blast in the city’s Port Richmond section around 2:50 a.m.
“We had multiple gas leaks in the area, and the smell of gas coming from multiple areas,” said Philadelphia Assistant Fire Chief Charles Walker, according to Fox 29.
Five people were taken to the hospital with one man in critical condition, the news outlet reported.
One woman from the neighborhood likened the explosion to a bomb going off.
“It was like a bomb, like a baboom. It shook the whole house,” Karen — who didn’t give her last name — told ABC 6.
A man driving down the street with his girlfriend when the blast erupted told reporters he was stepping over concrete afterward, recalling the explosion as a “loud bang.”
“I just felt my whole car push over to the curb,” said Chris Heisenger, ABC 6 reported. He returned to the scene later Sunday with a bloodied shirt and a cut to his cheek from a flying shard of glass, according to the news station.
The assistant fire chief said the city is “very fortunate” the explosion hadn’t proved deadly.
“We were very fortunate from what we know now not to have a loss of life, because it’s the middle of the night and everyone is sleeping,” Walker said told Fox 29.
“And if it’s confirmed to be a gas leak, it’s very rare to have the magnitude of this type of damage occur to not have loss of life, truly a blessing.”
Residents evacuated their homes to a nearby recreation center that was also damaged from the explosion.
It took more than two hours for about 100 firefighters and other first responders to bring the situation under control. Officials said the Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating to confirm the cause of the blast.
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