Fire marshals search for cause of Taylor house explosion

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TAYLOR, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The cause of a house explosion Thursday night in Lackawanna County is still under investigation.

State police fire marshals returned to the scene Friday afternoon to comb through what is left of a home in the 300-block of Union Street in Taylor.

There was one man inside the home when it exploded. That man has been identified by police as Brian Ott.

He was flown to a hospital in the Lehigh Valley where he was listed in critical condition.

Heavy machinery pulled part of Brian Ott’s bathroom from the backyard of his neighbor’s home Friday.

As crews started to clean up the huge mess from Thursday night’s explosion, eyewitnesses are still trying to make sense of what they saw.

“It was a huge flash and the explosion was huge. It sounded like a bomb went off!” neighbor Paul Sopinski said.

Jereme Spanburgh lives right across the street from the house that exploded.

He was right behind his front door and immediately jumped into action.

Jereme “The first thing I thought was grab an extinguisher and get over there and try and get everybody out of the area because I knew they were going to evacuate us,” Jereme Spanburgh said.

When firefighters arrived here on scene, they say they could hear Ott calling out faintly from beneath the rubble. Their goal was to keep him talking until they got to him about two hours later.

Police say the victim had burns on about 85-percent of his body.

“A very neighborly guy, you know, outgoing, hey whats up, nothing real serious,” Spanburgh said.

Two state police fire marshals spent Friday afternoon combing through the debris, trying to pinpoint what happened.

UGI Utilities says it did not find a gas leak near the home.

“We did not find a leak in our facilities in the immediate vacinity,” Joseph Swope, UGI Media Relations Manager said.

That leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

“A two-story home and now to see it like this, it’s unbelievable, unbelievable,” Sopinski said.

The cause of the house explosion is still being determined but fire marshals did take a large pipe from the debris pile.

Besides homeowner Brian Ott, police say two other people in the area were also hurt Thursday night in the explosion but those two people are both expected to be okay.

As part of its investigation, UGI Utilities says it did find an unrelated gas leak two blocks away from the explosion scene. That leak was fixed early Friday afternoon.

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