A home exploded in Center City overnight after an apparent gas leak, causing a three-alarm blaze that spread to other residences. Staff from the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania, already racing about all night from helping with flooding, set up a shelter for displaced residents at the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts on South Broad Street.
The explosion on the 2300 block of Naudain Street did not appear to cause any injuries, although initial reports were still coming in early this morning. The shelter is caring for 13 people from the building, the Red Cross said. Two dogs and two cats were being helped by Red Paw.
Around 3 a.m., some residents noticed a gas smell and called 911. Firefighters detected high carbon monoxide readings throughout the entire block. Residents were evacuated as Philadelphia Gas Works attempted to locate the source.
But something ignited an explosion at one home, causing the blaze, authorities said. The fire was brought under control shortly after 5 a.m. Details on what caused the explosion were not yet available.
Brian Moores, who has lived on the block for 20 years, said the carbon monoxide alarm of one of the building's residents sounded about 3 a.m.
The fire department responded, checked CO levels on the block, and found high readings. One woman in the building was overcome by the carbon monoxide, Moores said, and was taken to a hospital. The woman's cats were killed. Crews were dispatched to help locate the source of the carbon monoxide.
Then, at about 3:30 a.m., a home on the block exploded, Moores said.
The house was "blown into pieces," said Moores, who lives across the street. Debris from the explosion spilled onto the sidewalk and street.
That home caught fire, which spread to three adjacent houses.
Fire crews were already on the scene, but it took about 15 minutes to get water running to douse the blaze, Moores said. The home appeared to be destroyed.
No one was hurt in the explosion, as residents had already been evacuated while authorities probed the suspected gas leak.
Moores said the explosion didn't damage his house across the street, but he didn't know yet if the building sustained smoke or CO damage.
Written by Emily Babay