Fire Investigator Uncovers Potential Cause of Fatal Blast in Pennsylvania Residence Resulting in 5 Fatalities

A devastating residence blast occurred in Plum, Pennsylvania, over the weekend, leading to the loss of five individuals, among them prominent figures within the local community.

Teams from the Allegheny County Fire Marshal’s Office and nearby law enforcement agencies have revealed that the explosion stemmed from a residence with a history of problematic hot water tank issues.

The Fire Marshal’s office reported: “The Fire Marshal’s Office can confirm that it is aware that the homeowners at 141 Rustic Ridge Drive were having hot water tank issues. The tank was located in the basement of the home.”

Officials will now “investigate that information along with any and all other possibilities during their processes that may explain what occurred,” the statement added.

According to The Washington Post, Plum Mayor Harry Schlegel stated that the explosion claimed the lives of community development director Heather Oravitz, 51, along with Plum Borough Manager Michael Thomas, 57. Additionally, three more casualties were identified as Kevin Sebunia, 55; Casey Clontz, 38; and Clontz’s 12-year-old son, Keegan.

The Allegheny County Government wrote on its Facebook page Monday:

“A total of three structures were destroyed and at least a dozen more damaged in some way.”

The post added that “at approximately 10:22 AM, County 9-1-1 received numerous calls from the Rustic Ridge Drive and Brookside Drive area in Plum Borough reporting a house explosion, several houses on fire and damaged, and reports that individuals may have been in the impacted homes.”

Compounding the sense of urgency, fires erupted in two more homes, prompting the response of teams from a total of 18 distinct fire departments.

The New York Post reported: “First responders from the police and fire department arrived on the scene and reported that there were people trapped under debris and that it appeared as if one house had exploded, and two others were engulfed in fire. 

Water tankers responded from both Allegheny and Westmoreland counties along with 18 different fire departments. The county’s Emergency Management and Fire Marshals also responded to the scene.”

While electricity is being gradually restored to the majority of households in the vicinity, those properties directly affected by the explosion continue to be without power.

The community is deeply saddened by the loss. Heather Oravitz, whose husband sustained serious burn injuries during the tragic event and is presently receiving medical treatment, expressed her grief over the loss of these community stalwarts, saying, “These individuals were essential members of our community. It’s an overwhelming tragedy.”

USA Today reported that Rafal Kolankowski, who lives several lots down from the blast, said: “It’s just tragic, I mean, it looks like a war zone — it looks like a bomb hit our neighborhood.”

This narrative highlights the significance of prioritizing safety and thoroughness in household upkeep. While the community grapples with the sorrowful event, their united attention is directed towards aiding the impacted families and extracting valuable insights from this heart-wrenching occurrence.