A natural gas explosion in a Lancaster, Pennsylvania-area home that killed one person and injured three others also left several neighboring homes badly damaged Sunday, July 2.
UGI Utility workers were inside a Manor Township home investigating a reported gas leak when an explosion leveled the house and rocked the neighborhood. The blast killed UGI worker Richard A. Bouder, 54, at the scene. Three other UGI workers were injured, including one seriously. The other two workers are in stable condition.
According to Lancaster Online, in addition to destroying a house owned by Jeannine Hughes, the explosion severely damaged four nearby homes. The four homes sustained structural damage and were condemned. Homeowners were allowed to retrieve some items from those homes but are unable to live in them until they are repaired or rebuilt.
Ms. Hughes’ home and all her belongings were reduced to splinters by the blast, with pictures and video showing no recognizable features of the home, just a pile of debris.
Several other homes in the neighborhood received moderate to light damage. Neighbors who spoke with Lancaster Online described badly cracked walls, shattered windows, bent window frames, sagging cupboards, cracked roof beams, debris from the destroyed house, and household items that were knocked to the floor.
Ms. Hughes told Lancaster Online that she had been talking with Mr. Bouder just before the blast. She described him as a warm and jovial man with a good sense of humor. He told her to leave the house for safety reasons, so she was unharmed.
“I’m just in shock. Truly,” she told Lancaster Online. “That house was my center. My whole life was there.”
The loss of her home is compounded by the grief she feels for Mr. Bouder and his family. “She’s had trouble sleeping … And she worries for the families of the men killed and injured in the explosion,” Lancaster Online reported.
“They saved my life,” Ms. Hughes told Lancaster Online. “I want to honor those people in some way.”
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which probes disasters involving pipelines since they are considered a form of transportation, were on the scene gathering evidence and interviewing those who could shed light on the events leading to the blast.
Lancaster Online reported that evidence has been sent to a lab for analysis and the NTSB has turned the blast site over to local authorities.
The website also reported that UGI agreed to pay a $200,000 civil penalty to the state’s Public Utilities Commission in May 2013 to settle allegations that it “had failed to properly mark its underground facilities and to have procedures in place to accurately locate lines.”