1 person injured, 30 homes damaged in explosion in New Castle

Shattered glass sat inside an excavator where a contractor had been working to demolish a home on Pollock Avenue. The protective cage inside of the machine likely saved his life.

Officials said as he was working to demolish the garage behind the home with the machine, he hit something. Emergency crews were able to rule out a gas line break, but they are still investigating an exact cause.

The home on Pollock Avenue in New Castle had sat vacant for some time, and contractors had begun demolishing it earlier in the week.

But on Tuesday, just after 10:30 a.m., police said they received calls of an explosion coming from the home.

When we arrived, Allegheny County Bomb Squad was on the scene investigating. We spoke with New Castle Police Chief Robert Salem, who confirmed the explosion began in the garage.

“We know it’s not a gas line or anything like that, but we don’t know what the cause is, so that’s part of the process. We have our federal partners [investigating] along with the bomb squad,” said Salem.

In total, 30 homes are damaged, and officials believe that number may grow.

“Stuff was coming out of the sky, it’s all in my yard. I’m collecting it too, I’m stressed,” said neighbor Timothy Hawkins.

He added that the police chief had taken names of those with damaged homes and collected pictures.

“They are taking pictures of everything, that’s good,” Hawkins said.

While neighbors have a long clean-up ahead, they said it was the sound that shook them to their core and they are fortunate that the situation wasn’t worse.

“I had just walked in the door, took my shoes off, and I heard the explosion […] stuff was coming out of the sky, it blew up my windows, and I’m traumatized,” Hawkins said.

The contractor was hurt but is expected to survive. Luckily no one else was injured.