South Philly houses collapse, catch fire in reported explosion; search for residents underway

SMB handled the Philadelphia food truck explosion case that resulted in a $160 million settlement, was lead counsel in the Salvation Army building collapse that settled for $270 million and has successfully litigated numerous gas explosion cases that have devastated family homes.
SMB has handled more explosion and structural collapse cases than any firm in the region.  It is crucial to have these cases investigated immediately to determine the cause and origin of the explosion. SMB has an extensive history of filing lawsuits in house explosion and collapse cases and holding the responsible parties accountable.

A possible explosion ripped through multiple homes in South Philadelphia Thursday, causing them to collapse and leaving at least two people trapped in the rubble.

The blast was so loud it could be heard blocks away; so forceful that evacuated residents reported windows were blown out of their homes.

Police said officials responded to the 1400 block of South 8th Street about 11:30 a.m. Thursday after receiving multiple calls about a house explosion and the smell of gas. Authorities couldn’t offer details regarding the status of the people trapped.

The fire department said the blaze was under control just before 3 p.m.

Lisa Marie Cerra, who lives at 8th and Reed Streets, said the blast shook her home so much that her son was thrown out of bed. She said she and other residents were trying to help someone trapped under debris when firefighters arrived on scene.

“We saw her feet,” Cerra said, “and then they couldn’t get to her.”

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At a news conference, Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said firefighters “went into a fully-collapsed building that was on fire to try to rescue somebody.” After firefighters arrived, he said, another building partially collapsed. He said others in the area were “significantly compromised, if not collapsed.” Photos of the scene show four houses on fire.

“That secondary collapse, that’s hurting us right now,” Thiel said with regard to the rescue efforts, “but we’re not giving up.”

Emergency crews on the scene, including more than 120 members of the fire department, were evacuating some who live on the block in case of another explosion, though Thiel couldn’t say how many people were evacuated from the area. He said officials were conducting a block census. SEPTA buses were being used to keep evacuated residents warm in the sub-freezing temperatures.

A spokesperson at Philadelphia Gas Works said gas service was shut off to 10 homes in the area, but PGW did not immediately confirm the incident was gas-related. An investigation remains underway.

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