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Allentown, PA was rocked by an explosion on Wednesday night, destroying eight houses and killing at least one. The fire department has reported that several other homes are damaged, and that they have still yet to locate two residents, according to the New York Times. The area has been blocked off from traffic, with all residents being evacuated.
The explosion appears to have been caused by a natural gas leak. Earlier in the week, Allentown, PA's gas company had done a routine safety check on the 12-inch low pressure main involved, according to Reuters. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
As seen in September with the gas explosion in San Bruno, CA, and last month in Philadelphia, gas explosions of this kind cause significant damage and result in significant lawsuits. They also usually happen because gas lines are not properly inspected or maintained.
If liable, the family members of the deceased may be able to sue the gas company for wrongful death, while everyone will likely be able to recover for damaged property and related expenses. However, there is a difference between the Allentown gas explosion and the explosion in San Bruno.
The gas main in the Allentown gas explosion was just inspected, meaning that it was supposedly safe, whereas in San Bruno it was corroded and not maintained. If the company properly conducted the inspection, they will have fulfilled their duty to their customers. This could negate any claim of negligence.
As investigators make their way through the snow, ice and rubble, they will begin to understand more of what caused the Allentown gas explosion. It is only then we will be able to assign liability and determine who, if anyone, must pay.