Officials have identified the five people who were killed and the two people who were seriously injured in a Thursday night house explosion in Pottstown, Montgomery County.
The identities of the victims were released late Friday afternoon. Their names and ages are:
Francine White, 67
Alana Wood, 13
Jeremiah White, 12
Nehemiah White, 10
Tristan White, 8
Two victims are in critical condition. They have been identified as:
Eugene White, 44
Kristina Matuzsan, 32
The relationship between the victims has not been disclosed.
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation, and officials say it will “continue for some time.”
Neighbor Kim Kulp says her grandchildren referred to the victims as classmates and best friends.
On Friday morning she had to share the tough news.
“Counselors are going to have to be involved, definitely,” she said. “I mean, everybody’s going to be affected by this. This is just horrible. It hit too close to home.”
“Their kids loved our dog too so they would ride their bikes and followed us on walks,” said neighbor Rebecca Scott. “They were really great kids. This family did not deserve what happened to them.”
Neighbors told Action News they frequently smelled gas in the area. Officials believe there are gas lines there but are working to confirm that.
Officials say there was a propane tank on the scene that was not destroyed. They are working to find out what it was being used for.
The explosion It happened just after 8 p.m. Thursday near the area of Hale and Butler streets.
“We went running down the street and a house was completely destroyed,” one neighbor told Action News.
Neighbor Eunice Rome said she didn’t know the people in the home, but said her grandson Shane Rome Lawrence went to school with some of the children who lived there.
“I was crying earlier because I was sad that they died,” Lawrence said. “It’s crazy because nothing really happens in Pottstown.”
Debris could be seen scattered across the neighborhood after the blast leveled at least one home. Drone footage showed the scope of the damage.
Firefighters, police and EMS responded to the calls.
ATF, Pennsylvania State Police, the fire marshal’s office, and the Red Cross also arrived to the scene Thursday night.
Crews were still blasting water on the explosion site early Friday morning.
Residents tell Action News they heard a blast and then reported seeing a fire.
“The house shook and I thought it was an earthquake. We all came outside to see what was going on,” another neighbor said.
Neighbor Christian Gonzalez says he thought it was thunder at first.
“I really thought it was really loud thunder just nearby, but it shook the area,” he said.
The investigation into the cause of the explosion is ongoing.
As questions remain, neighbors are still stunned.
“Me and my friend, we came up here and saw them pulling people out,” resident Zynir Felton said.
Keller said residents that need assistance should come to the Pottstown Senior High School.
All schools in the Pottstown School District are canceled Friday.
In a letter to families, Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez said, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those families. When schools open again, our counselors and psychologists will be available to provide support.”