This story originally appeared on 6abc.
Inspectors in Pottstown, Montgomery County have deemed at least half a dozen homes uninhabitable after last week’s explosion that killed five people including four children, and plan to get close to finishing additional inspections Thursday.
Two houses exploded in the deadly blast, and now at least six neighboring houses are deemed unsafe for families to go inside, according to Keith Place, director of the Pottstown Borough of Licensing and Inspection.
Those homes are labeled with warnings from L&I on the front doors that read “uninhabitable/unsafe.”
“At this point in time, even with the inspectors, it is deemed they’re uninhabitable. We have the engineer coming out to verify that and do a documented report,” Place said.
Place also said more homes could potentially be deemed uninhabitable once the engineer completes inspections.
Teams looked at dozens of homes Wednesday.
“We looked at a total of 40 some properties today and I think there is an additional three on top of the first six that we want to have the structural engineer go in and take a look at,” Place said.
The blast happened around 8 p.m. Thursday at a home in the 400 block of Hale Street.
Though neighbors report smelling gas in the area periodically, investigators have not identified a cause of the explosion which claimed the lives of 13-year-old Alana Wood, 12-year-old Jeremiah White, 10-year-old Nehemiah White and 8-year-old Tristan White. Their grandmother, 67-year-old Francine White, was also killed.
For now, the aftermath of the blast remains. Debris is scattered across the neighborhood, clothing blown into trees, sneakers and toys found among the rubble. It’s all a devastating reminder of the precious lives lost.
“I lost everything. I’m thankful that me and my son made it out alive that day,” said Pottstown neighbor Tandra Rambert.
“It’s just an extraordinary community, so the sight of this blast is utterly heartbreaking. The loss of life, the loss of a grandmother, the loss of four young children,” said Congresswoman Madeleine Dean.
Federal and state leaders gathered on Hale Street Wednesday to provide outreach to the community.
“I think, longer-term, the federal government can provide support in terms of housing and rebuilding and getting the community back on its feet,” said Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey.
PECO says the homes that exploded were not served by their natural gas, adding that there is no evidence that their company is to blame.
Structural engineers are planning to return to Hale Street Thursday morning to continue assessing homes.
There are several funds collecting money for the families impacted by this tragedy. Tri-County Network has raised more than $10,000.