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Residents evacuated just before gas explosion flattened Susquehanna Twp. home with a ‘sonic boom’

  • By Sue Gleiter/ PennLive
An explosion destroyed a home in the 3200 block of Crest Road in Susquehanna Twp. on Dec. 13, 2022.

 Sean Simmers / PennLive

An explosion destroyed a home in the 3200 block of Crest Road in Susquehanna Twp. on Dec. 13, 2022.

Residents of a Susquehanna Township home were evacuated minutes before their home was flattened in a massive explosion Tuesday morning, officials said.

A contractor punctured a gas line while working at the home in the Wedgewood Hills neighborhood in the 3200 block of Crest Road about 9 a.m. Tuesday and summoned firefighters who arrived within about 10 minutes and found high gas levels inside the home. That’s when the residents were told to leave. Firefighters cleared out shortly thereafter

And it was just in time. The house blew up about 9:30 a.m., pulverizing the home and sending their personal items into trees and yards a block away.

“That explosion occurred literally seconds after the last firefighter exited the front of the home,” said Public Safety Director Rob Martin. “And he was blown several feet away from the home. He suffered no injuries to date.”

Two people were injured in the blast: a neighbor and a contract worker. Their injuries were described as non-life threatening. Neighbors were ordered to evacuate following the explosion while their homes were inspected for structural integrity.

In the aftermath, pieces of insulation and roofing materials littered lawns and debris dangled from trees. Neighbors and those in the surrounding area reported an explosion so powerful it shook their homes and broke windows.

“It was unbelievable. It was unreal,” said Pedro Mora, a neighbor. “I didn’t realize the magnitude.”

Mora, who was not at home at the time of the explosion, said his wife, Aubrey Mora, alerted him around 9:30 a.m to the blast., noting the explosion caused pictures to fall off walls and kitchen cupboard doors to open.

Martin said officials including the Dauphin County Arson Investigation Team from District Attorney Fran Chardo’s office are conducting an investigation into the cause of the explosion. He noted there is no reason to believe it was suspicious.

Contractors are supposed to check with gas companies before digging to avoid hitting gas lines. It’s unclear whether the company called and if they did, what information they were given about the location of gas lines. That all will be part of the investigation.

Martin said police and firefighters responded shortly after 9 a.m. to a call for a reported gas leak in the development off Progress Avenue.

The call originated, Martin said when a Pronto Plumbing contractor working at a home at 3204 Crest Road punctured a gas line. By 9:15 a.m., firefighters noted a reading on their device for a high explosive limit, he said.

At least 20 neighbors living along Crest Road were evacuated to Our Savior Lutheran Church at 420 N. Progress Ave. The American Red Cross sent a disaster action team to support the displaced residents.

Neighbors including Randy and Tami Wilson said they were busy working at home when they felt their house shake. When they went outside, they noticed pieces of white insulation covering their lawn.

“It was so intense,” Randy Wilson said, adding he saw items such as insulation and roofing materials billowing above the trees.

Neighbor Lisa Bruschi discovered coloring book pages, flashcards and assorted papers in her yard from the blast. She described the the events, “As very loud sonic boom and all the windows and doors rattled.”

Many including Mora said they were thankful no one was severely injured.

“Luckily everyone is OK,” he said. “Stuff can be replaced. “I always look at it as it could have been a lot worse.”

Martin urged residents with questions to call Dauphin County Emergency Management Agency at 717-558-6300.

In 2019, natural gas caused a Harrisburg home to explode, blowing two women off their couch. That explosion in the 1600 block of Sycamore Street occurred minutes after a UGI gas company worker had left their basement for an inspection.


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