Gas line blast described as feeling like ‘earthquake,' ‘airplanes crashing'

SALEM TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A gas line explosion Friday morning in Salem Township, Westmoreland County, could be felt for miles.

“I was in the car, felt this shake. I looked over the horizon. It looked like the sun was coming…everything engulfed. It was blazing. You could feel the heat,” Tricia Cunningham said.

The blast was reported shortly before 8:30 a.m.

“I was sitting at my desk and pencils started to rattle and everything,” neighbor Alice Schrecongost said. “There was a big loud rumble. You could hear there actually was a roar.”

She told Channel 11 News that she and her husband thought there had been an earthquake.

Richard Johnson and his wife, Linda Johnston, were also rattled by the explosion.

“It was like three or four jet airplanes crashing in the yard at one time,” Richard Johnson said.

Linda Johnston described what they saw when they looked out of their Salem Township home, siding and railings of which were melted.

“It was just a big ball of fire, wide and tall. It was awful,” she said.

Two Salem Township supervisors were in the area and heard the blast.

“It was extreme heat around this area,” Supervisor Kerry Jobe said. “It was pretty intense when it first happened.”

Kim Kelley owns a pizzeria less than a mile away from the blast. She could feel the heat inside the shop.

“The whole sky was orange,” Kelley said.

The force of the explosion tossed items onto the floor.

“You could just hear the ‘whooshing’ of the gas as if your head was in a campfire,” Kelley said.

Comments on this article