Authorities confirmed that an explosion on Saturday morning in the residential suburb of Plum, outside Pittsburgh left five people dead and three injured. Plum is about 15 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. The explosion destroyed three structures and damaged at least a dozen others. Police have not yet publicly identified the victims, but officials said one of the victims was an adolescent.
911 dispatchers received a call a little before 10:30 a.m on Saturday that multiple houses were on fire due to an explosion. The incident appeared to begin when one house exploded, engulfing two neighboring homes in flames as well, according to the county. Multiple other homes were damaged with windows blown out.
Allegheny County officials reported that firefighters arrived to find “people trapped under the debris,” and took three people to a hospital. Of the three, two have been released and the third is in the hospital in critical condition, according to police. The remains of five victims – four adults and one adolescent – were also found at the scene. County spokesperson Amie Downs said crews from at least 18 fire departments were working to douse the flames with the help of water tankers from Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. 57 firefighters were treated on scene for minor issues, most for heat exhaustion.
The cause of the explosion is under investigation. Plum and county law enforcement, as well as the county fire marshal’s office, are investigating, and the state public utilities commission and local utilities were also at the scene. Officials said the investigation will be a “slow and long process” that could last for months or years. The Red Cross and Salvation Army are assisting residents impacted by the explosion.
Editorial credit: Steven Matto / Shutterstock.com