'It's really sad': Investigation into Pottstown house explosion continues as victims identified

There are new details in the deadly Pottstown explosion. Five people are dead, while two are injured, in the Montgomery County community.

From the air, the site of the explosion looks like a war zone, with rubble twisted and strewn for yards.

Tanya Johnson lives a few doors away. "I hear a big bang, which I thought was thunder and I heard another bang and all the glasses in the house started to shake," she said.

That was just after 8 Thursday night, when emergency crews arrived at the corner of Hale Street and Butler Avenue. Little remained of the duplex that once stood at the spot.


"It was crazy, because they were bringing bodies down the street. They looked like they were alive. We couldn’t tell. I couldn’t see the other side," Johnson related. "They said there were bodies outside the house."

Pottstown Manager Justin Keller, says five people died in the blast. Killed in the blast were 67-year-old Francine White, 13-year-old Alana Wood, 12-year-old Jeremiah White, 10-year-old Nehemiah White and eight-year-old Tristan White.

A woman, claiming to be the sister of a victim, says her brother recently bought the home on Hale Street and lived there with his wife, his mother and four children.

"I heard this big, huge explosion and that was it," stated Dorohy Auman.

"What did you think?" asked FOX 29’s Jeff Cole.

"I thought, ‘Oh my God, that poor family,’" Auman replied.

Residents say the smell of natural gas in the neighborhood was constant and they complained.

"If you walked up to the corner or even if you were in your car, you would smell gas. It would be off and on," Johnson stated.

Ryan Nagel says he moved out of one of the destroyed homes in 2017. "The whole time, the 10 years we lived there, we could smell gas. Every once in a while, we’d smell gas, wondering what it was. We’d call police, they’d come out and not smell anything and say it was fine."

"The neighbors say they smell gas constantly in the area, including in the last few days. What do you know about that?" Cole asked.

"That’s something we’re still looking into," Keller answered.

PECO says the homes were not their natural gas customers.

A home camera captured the sound of the blast.

By afternoon, investigators picked over the site, while residents thought of the children.

"I know it was probably at a time when the kids were settling down and everyone was getting ready for school and work the next day. It’s really sad," resident Justice Butts remarked.