It was a terrifying start to the new year for several residents in Port Richmond, Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD) was called to the scene of an explosion that happened at the 3500 block of Miller Street in Port Richmond, according to the City of Philadelphia.
PFD responded around 2:50 a.m. to an explosion in Port Richmond that destroyed at least two houses and damaged many others. Updates to come. pic.twitter.com/xPxP2albiv
— Philadelphia Fire (@PhillyFireDept) January 1, 2023
The explosion occurred early Sunday morning at approximately 2:50 a.m., destroying at least two houses less than three total hours into 2023.
There were several others that were damaged.
Chris Heisenger was driving down the street with his girlfriend only moments before the explosion happened, according to WPVI.
“Well, I had my head turned towards here and I was like, ‘we’re going to Wawa,’ and just outta nowhere it was like a loud bang and I just felt my whole car push over to the curb,” he said.
“As I got out of the car, I’m stepping over piles of concrete,” Heisenger continued, “I remember everything. The smell, the taste of the debris, it’s still in my head.”
WARNING: The following video contains imagery the reader may find disturbing
“A walking miracle”- Chris tells @CBSPhiladelphia he was sitting in his car with his girlfriend when the two row homes exploded in the Port Richmond neighborhood. His shirt is covered in blood. He’s one of 3 injured. pic.twitter.com/fAPScr51Rw
— Wakisha Bailey_CBSPhilly (@NewsWakisha) January 1, 2023
EMS care was provided to several people by the PFD. Those individuals had to be taken to the hospital, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“We had multiple gas leaks in the area, and the smell of gas coming from multiple areas,” said Philadelphia’s Assistant Fire Chief, Charles Walker.
“I heard a bang, came outside, and everybody started coming out,” said Thomas Bonk.
Bonk lives on the 3600 block of Miller Street.
Bonk was fortunate in that his home was undamaged, but several other residents had their windows blown out because of the force of the explosion.
“It was like a bomb, like a ‘ba-boom!’ It shook the whole house. It’s indescribable almost,” a neighbor named Karen told WPVI. She was unable to get out of her front door.
“There was debris, coming out of the sky and my God, I ran up the street! There was a car twisted up in the middle of the road,” said Tim Bolli, who went on to describe the scene like a war zone.
L&I back in Port Richmond this AM after blast Sunday morning that leveled two homes and sent 5 people to hospital. pic.twitter.com/gDTumRjykQ
— Katherine Scott (@KScott6abc) January 2, 2023
“We were very fortunate from what we know now not to have a loss of life, because it’s the middle of the night and everyone is sleeping,” Walker told WTXF. “And if it’s confirmed to be a gas leak, it’s very rare to have the magnitude of this type of damage occur to not have loss of life, truly a blessing.”
It took about two hours for authorities to gain control of the area. Gas and electric have been turned off by area public safety crews.
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