Five people were killed and two more injured in an explosion at a house in Pennsylvania this week, according to authorities, who announced Friday they have identified the dead.
Pottstown Borough Manager Justin Keller and Pottstown Police said in a news conference that the blast came from a home on Hale Street near Butler Avenue around 8 p.m. local time Thursday, and caused damage to nearby homes as well.
"Emergency services arrived on the scene to find a house that had exploded with multiple victims needing medical care," Keller told reporters. "At our 11 p.m. briefing last night, four fatalities were confirmed. Unfortunately, as of this afternoon, that number has increased to five."
The reason for the fatal explosion is still under investigation, police noted. Pennsylvania State Police and the Red Cross were also dispatched Thursday night, along with an explosives and arson team from Philadelphia, which is roughly 40 miles from Pottstown.
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The victims who died in the explosion were identified as Francine White, 67, Alana Wood, 13, Jeremiah White, 12, Nehemiah White, 10, and Tristan White, 8, according to authorities. The two people injured were taken to a hospital to be treated for injuries — one immediate survivor was undergoing surgery for unknown injuries and the other was in critical but stable condition, Keller said.
Pottstown Schools Superintendent Stephen J. Rodriguez dismissed classes for Friday afternoon. He said in a statement that services for students and families would be available through Red Cross, Creative Health Counselors, and Pottstown School District counselors.
The superintendent also said in a statement that donations are being collected for the victims and families.
The scene of the explosion on Hale Street in Pottstown is one of total devastation. Neighbors and even some first responders are stunned. pic.twitter.com/2rHLNb7uCS
— Evan Brandt (@PottstownNews) May 27, 2022
"We kindly ask that you respect the victims and families during this difficult time," Keller said. "Give them the space they need."
Evan Brandt, a reporter for The Mercury, a daily newspaper covering Pottstown, shared harrowing photos from the aftermath of the explosion on social media on Friday.
On Saturday, The Mercury News reported that there was no gas service to the area and no reports of gas odor, ruling out natural gas as the cause of the tragedy.