May 27, 2022
Fire crews are investigating the cause of a Pottstown house explosion that killed five people and hospitalized two others Thursday night.
Borough Manager Justin Keller provided an update Friday afternoon. He said the death toll grew from four to five. Emergency responders are no longer looking for missing people. Late Thursday night, Keller had said two people were missing.
"Everyone has been accounted for," Keller said Friday. One of the people hospitalized is in critical condition. The other was undergoing surgery for injuries that were not disclosed.
Additional details about the victims will be released once their family members have been notified, Keller said. Authorities have not stated whether they were related.
A neighbor told the Morning Call that the family who lived in the house had four or five kids and had moved in about a year ago.
Officials said the blast destroyed two homes and damaged 8-10 others. The explosion happened shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday near the corner of Hale Street and Butler Avenue. It could be felt miles away, FOX29 reports.
First responders have been at the scene since last night. Firefighters were still spraying water into a 20-foot hole Friday morning, CBS3 reported.
The scene could still pose a danger to the public, Pottstown Fire Department Chief Frank Hand said. He asked that people avoid the scene, which he described as "devastating."
There's currently no safety risk for residents outside the immediate neighborhood, Hand said.
An investigation into the cause remains ongoing, but Hand said officials can't get that fully underway until the scene is stabilized.
"It's meticulous and it's slow," he said of the effort. "We're still slowly getting into the building."
The Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania set up a help center at Pottstown High School for people in need of shelter or assistance.
Keller said he wasn't sure how many people the explosion displaced. About a dozen were being assisted by the Red Cross. The rest found shelter with family or friends.
The Pottstown School District canceled all classes Friday.
This story was last updated at 2:50 p.m. Check back for additional details as they develop.