Explosion Destroys 2 Row Houses in Pittsburgh Neighborhood

Two row houses exploded or collapsed into rubble on the city's North Side on Friday morning, but both were believed to be unoccupied, authorities said.

At least 10 other homes were damaged and glass was scattered on the sidewalk and in the street after the neighborhood was shaken about 10:30 a.m.

"It hit so hard I felt the repercussions in my chest," Darrin Adkins said.

Crews had no reports of injuries, said Robert McCaughan, the city's chief of Emergency Medical Services, though officials were combing the neighborhood to make sure.

While there was no immediate evidence of a leak, Equitable Gas Co. shut down all natural gas service to the area, spokesman David Spigelmyer said. Records showed that the home that apparently exploded or collapsed first was vacant, and its gas service was shut off.

Ray Wappes, who owns a rental home across the street, said the other leveled house had been owned by an older man who now lives in a retirement home and had talked about selling it.

As for the rental home across the street, Wappes said, "the whole front's blown out. I had all new windows and doors. Everything's blown out."

Though witnesses described an explosion, Public Safety Director Michael Huss was describing it as a "collapse" for now because first responders didn't see smoke or flames.

"We just don't know," Huss said. "It's very early on at this point."

Near the rubble of the houses, a telephone pole was knocked over and was leaning precariously over the road.

"I'm just glad I wasn't right beside it," Adkins said. "It snapped that pole like a twig."