Fire marshal considers Plum house explosion accidental, DA says

PLUM BOROUGH, Pa. — District Attorney Stephen Zappala visited the site of that deadly home explosion in Plum on Wednesday.

Zappala spoke with Channel 11 Chief Investigator Rick Earle about his visit and what he plans to do to put residents in Plum at ease.

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Zappala told Earle that it appears to be a tragic accident, but he said he still has a lot of questions about the magnitude and the intensity of that massive and deadly explosion, and he plans to bring in explosive experts to help the fire marshal with the investigation.

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“It was horrific. It was just a horrific situation,” said Zappala, who met with worried residents.

“Those people are very concerned about three explosions. it was over a long period of time, but three explosions in plum is too many,” said Zappala.

Since 2008, there have been three separate explosions, and Peoples Natural Gas said so far they’ve found no connection between any of them.

During the visit, the district attorney also met with the county fire marshal, who he says is treating this an accident.

“I wanted to talk to the Fire Marshal, and Donnie Brucker, he’s one of the top Fire Marshals in the country and Donnie says he thinks it’s an accident,” said Zappala

Zappala said investigators are concentrating on the hot water heater in the basement of the Oravitzes home, where the explosion originated.

Two other nearby homes were destroyed by the blast and fire. Another dozen homes were damaged.

Five of the victims were in the basement checking out the water heater, that according to multiple sources, was making a pinging sound.

The sixth victim, Paul Oravitz, was on the first floor at the time.

Zappala said he has a lot of questions about the intensity of the blast and fire.

And he plans to bring in experts to help the Fire Marshal evaluate it.

“The Fire Marshal is saying it was a gas, the gas exploded. That’s a lot of gas and a pretty major explosion so we’re going to bring in some explosives people to understand it better,” said Zappala.

Zappala also plans to meet with Peoples Natural Gas to talk about a plan of action moving forward, like giving first responders access to street side shut off valves that they could turn off immediately after an explosion or leak.

“I think the police should be...they should have the ability if something like that happens, you could turn the gas off to the rest of that plan,” said Zappala.

Zappala said today he will continue to monitor the investigation and he plans to meet with Peoples Gas to see what more can be done to put residents in Plum at ease.

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