[Editor's note: This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).]
A Pennsylvania man apparently committed suicide on his daughter's wedding day by blowing up his suburban Pittsburgh home, authorities say.
Neighbors told police they saw the homeowner standing in front of his residence in Edgewood shortly before an explosion went off inside the home, igniting a fire and eventually destroying the structure.
“The house just collapsed in one large movement with a lot of sound to it,” neighbor Dann Laudermilch, 35, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “By that time it was fully in flames. It went up in flames remarkably fast. I thought it would take longer to burn, but it was like a minute and a half — it was crazy.”
“The house just collapsed in one large movement with a lot of sound to it. By that time it was fully in flames. It went up in flames remarkably fast.”
Police and fire units responded around 2:30 p.m. to find the man's vehicle and cell phone out front. Hours passed before a crew using heavy machinery found the man’s body around 8 p.m., Pittsburgh’s WTAE-TV reported.
The death was ruled a suicide and the man's name was not released. Family members were away from the home at the time, attending the daughter’s wedding, officials said. It remained unclear who lived in the home with the man. No additional deaths were reported.
In addition to Laudermilch, other neighbors described feeling their own homes shake during the explosion, causing them to go outside to find out what happened.
“We came outside to see what was going on, and the house was in flames — still standing — but in flames,” neighbor Donna Antolovich told the Post-Gazette. “Three to five minutes before the house blew up, the owner was standing in front of it. After that, nobody could find him.”
The cause of the explosion remained under investigation, but Edgewood police Chief Robert Payne said it appeared the man “may have been able to disconnect the gas line itself in the basement of the house and of course it wouldn't take much but a spark to explode the house after that."
Police said they had been to the home before for domestic issues relating to mental illness. A house next door that was damaged by the fire had recently been sold, and officials say a family had been planning to move in soon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.