UPDATE: Electrician may be to blame for gas explosion that destroyed Schenectady home, damaged two others (with video, photo gallery)
Updated 6:22 p.m.
SCHENECTADY One house was destroyed and another two were set ablaze after a gas explosion on Avenue B on the city’s North Side this afternoon.
One of the houses involved is 2160-2162 Avenue B, a duplex, according to police scanner traffic.
The explosion happened about 3:45 p.m. All occupants of the building were out of the home when it ignited, according to emergency scanner traffic.
Mayor Gary McCarthy said the preliminary investigation indicates an electrician was called to the house for an electrical panel problem that required immediate action. He may have called the city to inform the electrical inspector, rather than pulling a permit, because of the immediate need, McCarthy said.
He said it’s not clear how that work ruptured the gas main, but the electrician may have hit the main while drilling to place a grounded line.
“I was just sitting watching TV, and I heard a big explosion. I just ran outside with my daughter,” said Dameon Myrick, who quickly got out of house at 2160 Avenue B.
Neighbor Jill Alois told them to come to her house to get warm.
“They were running down the road in their underwear,” she said.
She was impressed by the quick response of the city’s fire department.
“I heard an explosion. Everything rattled. Then, one second later I heard sirens.”
Myrick’s girlfriend, Alicia Bouchard, was not home at the time. The couple’s cats are believed to have perished in the blaze.
Chris Arroyo was not home at the time. “My girlfriend was in the shower. She felt it. I was at Walmart. I flew back here,” he said. “Oh my God! This is crazy.”
The couple also believed they lost their cats, as well.
The Red Cross was assisting the victims with temporary shelter.
Firefighters used an aerial attack to dump a massive amount of water on the structure. The fire was declared under control by 5 p.m.
The loud explosion shook the North Side of the city and sent flames more than three stories in the air.
“My whole house shook like we were hit with an earthquake. I felt my whole body shake,” said Bart Gibeault, who lives on Salina Street,
Flames and large plumes of black smoke were visible from The Daily Gazette’s main office on Maxon Road Extension several minutes after the explosion around 3:45.
Fire officials could not be immediately reached.
In a 2005 house explosion on Strong Street in Schenectady, a contractor installing sidewalks and curbs was cited for causing a gas leak that led to that explosion. In that case, the home of Morris Melitzer was destroyed Oct. 6, 2005, after a backhoe caused a pipe fitting to break just inside the basement of 1057 Strong St., filling the house with natural gas. That explosion destroyed the home and damaged two neighboring homes.