Investigation Into Contractor, Gas Connection In Home Blast

Investigation Into Contractor, Gas Connection In S. Philly Home Blast

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SOUTH PHILADELPHIA -

Investigators returned to the scene of Monday's natural gas explosion and building collapse on Daly Street in South Philadelphia. They are moving closer to the cause of the blast that rocked this whole neighborhood.

"The contractor actually went in and tried to light the hot water heater and left, and when he came back, was in the house, and then lit a cigarette in the house. And supposedly that's when the explosion happened," City Councilman Mark Squilla told Fox 29.

The councilman says that investigators have focused on the contractor. He is now hospitalized in critical condition with burns to nearly 25 percent of his body.

"Obviously, he was in the house at some location, I'm not really sure, but he was blown through the building and out onto the street area," the councilman added.

Detectives also returned to the scene Tuesday. Sources say they searched the contractor's truck overnight and found nothing suspicious. They hope to speak with him in the hospital in the next several days. He may have to be read his Miranda rights before speaking to police.

Investigators also inspected, photographed and removed the gas meter at the newly renovated home at 428 Daly St., where the explosion occurred.

"The real concern now is the contractor. Who was actually doing the work, whether the contractors were licensed to do that kind of work. Now the investigation will move on," Squilla explained.

"It's a disaster," one of the evacuees told Fox 29

Some of the evacuees from Daly Street returned to retrieve clothing while the investigation and cleanup work progressed. One side of the block has been allowed back in. The other side just got word that they can also return, after officials turned the power and gas back on.

"Just gathering up all my clothes and making sure my family and my animals are okay. Just being relocated for a little bit," said Charles Woody, who lives on the block.

Joe Piacentini collected up his kids, his wife and his family belongings and left Daly Street. He wants to put all this behind him.

"Go down the shore a couple days and get this out of our minds," he said.

High ranking sources say investigators are checking to see if the gas was hooked up correctly when it was turned on to the home. Also, who turned the gas on?

They also want to know what agencies inspected and signed off on the gas connections at the newly renovated home where the explosion happened.

Detectives could subpoena records from contractors, the homeowner, utility companies and the city during their investigation.

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