Explosion in Pottstown, Pennsylvania on Hale Street leaves at least 5 dead

POTTSTOWN, Pa. (WPVI) – Authorities have identified the five people who were killed and the two people who were seriously injured in a home explosion Thursday night in Pottstown, Montgomery County.

The identities of the victims were released 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

Cristina Matuzsan, 32

The relationship between the victims has not been disclosed.

The cause of the explosion remains under investigation and authorities 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 he had to share the hard news.

“Counselors are definitely going to have to be involved,” he said. “I mean, everyone is going to be affected by this. This is just horrible. It hit too close to home.”

“His kids loved our dog, too, so they would ride their bikes and follow us on walks,” said neighbor Rebecca Scott. “They were great kids. This family didn’t deserve what happened to them.”

Neighbors told Action News that they frequently smelled gas in the area. Authorities believe there are gas lines there, but are working to confirm this.

Authorities say there was a propane tank at the scene that was not destroyed. They are working to find out what it was being used for.

The blast occurred just after 8 p.m. Thursday near the area of ​​Hale and Butler streets.

“We ran down the street and one house was completely destroyed,” a 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. “She’s crazy because nothing really happens in Pottstown.”
Debris could be seen scattered around the neighborhood after the blast leveled at least one home. Drone footage showed the extent of the damage.

Firefighters, police and EMS responded to calls.

ATF, Pennsylvania State Police, the fire marshal’s office and the Red Cross also arrived at the scene Thursday night.

Crews were still spraying water at the blast site early Friday.

Residents told Action News they heard an explosion and later reported seeing a fire.

“The house shook and I thought it was an earthquake. We all went out to see what was going on,” said another neighbor.

Neighbor Christian González says that at first he thought it was thunder.

“I really thought it was very strong thunder nearby, but it shook the area,” he said.
The investigation into the cause of the explosion is ongoing.

While questions remain, neighbors are still stunned.

“My friend and I came here and watched them take people out,” resident Zynir Felton said.

Keller said residents who need help should go to Pottstown High School.

All schools in the Pottstown School District are canceled on Friday.

In a letter to families, Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with those families. When schools open again, our counselors and psychologists will be available to provide support.”

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