Explosion Rocks South Philly Neighborhood; 8 People Hurt

Explosion Rocks South Philly Neighborhood; 8 People Hurt

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PHILADELPHIA -
"My whole house shook and then my door slammed. Then my cable goes out," says Michael McGraw.

"A loud explosion, my house shook," says another witness.

That's how witnesses and people who live on Daly Street described the explosion and building collapse that rocked their South Philly neighborhood Monday morning, setting off a mad scramble to save lives.

"I see a whole house exploded down and then I see the house right next to it about to fall over," said young Michael McGraw. "Then I go to my friends house to see if he's okay."

Carol McKenna lives right across the street from 428 Daly, where the explosion occurred. She said it rocked her home and she was lucky to get out.

"I heard a loud explosion," McKenna told Fox 29. "First, I didn't know whether to look out my door or not because I was so scared."

"I almost thought cars were colliding, like a bunch of cars," says Maureen Mansi, a neighbor.

The incredible view from Maureen Mansi's back porch on Wolfe Street is reminder of how lucky her family is.

"Any of us could have been out in the yard," she says. "It could have went further than it has."

She lives behind 428 Daly Street.

"We're lucky, very lucky," she reflects.

Philadelphia Police, Fire and PGW shut down the block and ordered evacuations.

"It's scary. I got high blood pressure it's probably all the way up," says Lottie Elliot.

Lottie Elliot was out celebrating her 88th birthday when it happened.

"A building down; down, really down, first up, then it's down," she remembers.

She returned to find the back of her house, behind the collapsed one, littered with glass.

Witnesses described how neighbors raced to rescue neighbors. Tishon Jones described the first person he saw after the blast. It was the contractor who was inside the home where the explosion occurred.

"There was a guy with his arm on fire and stuff, panicking, pretty sure that's the contractor that they're talking about," he explained.

Fire investigators, PGW and police quickly launched investigations into the blast. Sources say preliminary information indicates the contractor may have been having problems with the hot water heater's pilot light.

"We're not sure of the cause, but the reports that we have presently, is that the contractor was working on the water heater and there were some issues with the water heater," Deputy Commissioner Derrick Sawyer told reporters at the blast scene.

"There are some permits pulled for that address. Obviously there was work being done," City Councilman Mark Squilla told Fox 29, on the scene.

Just weeks after six people died in the building collapse at 22nd and Market, neighbors here were thankful everyone got out alive.

"Some man, I don't know where he's at, but he was great. He got the baby and got the baby out," McKenna said referencing the rescue of a baby from her mother's arms inside one of the homes that was damaged.

"That's very lucky, very lucky. As you can see it's a mess down there," said Shawn Henderson. "It's a neighborhood. We're all family."

"It looks devastating," Councilman Squilla said after he inspected the scene. "You would be surprised how anybody would be able to survive that type of explosion."

Fire officials and police continue to investigate. Gas has been shut off on the 400 block of Daly Street.

Officials from the Department of Licenses and Inspections are also on scene. An excavator will be brought in to remove some of the debris pile and let investigators look further into the blast.

The city right now says the cause of the explosion is natural gas. But they're still investigating the cause of the gas leak.

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