History of explosions in Plum where five killed in blast revealed

Investigators started looking into two gas leaks in another Plum neighborhood on Tuesday, according to reports

Kelly Rissman
Wednesday 16 August 2023 16:07 BST
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Drone footage shows aftermath of Pennsylvania house explosion

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

The explosion in Plum, Pennsylvania, wasn’t the first time that this has happened in the region – it’s the third since 2008.

Before the tragic explosion that occurred on Rustic Ridge Drive in Plum on Saturday, killing five people, previous reports surfaced regarding a house explosion that occurred in 2022 on Hialeah Drive. One person had to be life-flighted out of the home, but ultimately the family made it out of the scene safely. The cause of that incident has yet to be announced.

In March 2008, according to a National Transportation Safety Board brief, a natural gas explosion destroyed a home on Mardi Gras Drive in Plum, “killing a man and seriously injuring a 4-year-old girl.” But the extent of the explosion continued to affect the community, the report stated, as two other houses were destroyed and 11 others were damaged.

The NTSB identified the likely cause to be “excavation damage to the two-inch natural gas distribution pipeline” that led to corrosion.

The house that exploded in Pennsylvania on Saturday was having hot water tank issues, according to the Allegheny County Fire Marshal’s Office, but the cause of the blast remains under investigation.

Officials are still looking into it, “along with any and all other possibilities during their processes that may explain what occurred.” The bodies of four adults and one teenager were recovered from the scene, Plum Borough Police Chief Lanny Conley said on Sunday.

Four of the victims have now been identified: two city employees – borough manager Michael Thomas and director of planning and development Heather Oravitz – as well as two people who lived four houses down from the exploded residence, Casey Clontz, 38, and his 12-year-old son, Keegan Clontz, 12.

On Tuesday, just days after the tragic explosion, crews began investigating two gas leaks in another Plum neighborhood—Regency Park— a mere 10-minute drive from the explosion on Rustic Ridge Drive after locals reported smelling a gas odor, according to CBS News.

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