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Natural gas leak from within basement caused deadly house explosion in Lackawanna

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Posted at 2:48 PM, Aug 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-09 17:07:40-04

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WKBW) — City of Lackawanna Mayor Annette Iafallo released a statement Monday regarding the deadly house explosion on Bedford Avenue in Lackawanna on July 20, 2021.

Iafallo said the Erie County Sheriff’s Office has completed its investigation and determined the explosion at 91 Bedford Avenue was caused by a natural gas leak from within the basement of the home. At this time it is unknown what ignited the explosion.

Lackawanna fire crews responded to the home around 7:20 a.m. on July 20 for the report of a house explosion. Upon arrival, firefighters found the home was destroyed and there was a large debris field with fire burning from the home’s foundation.

92-year-old Irene Sanok was pronounced dead at the scene by the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office. Several other homes were damaged in the area.

We continue to offer thoughts and prayers for the Sanok family during this very difficult time, as well as those families residing nearby who were displaced from their homes.

My sincere thanks to the Lackawanna Fire and Police Departments for their professional and compassionate handling of the Bedford Avenue scene and to the Erie County Sheriff’s Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for working with us to complete the investigation in a timely and thorough manner.

I also want to recognize the Lackawanna Department of Public Works for working into the night of July 20th to clean up Bedford Avenue and our Code Enforcement Officers for their ongoing efforts to assist the owners of residential properties damaged by the explosion, most notably the heavilydamaged 87 and 97 Bedford Avenue locations. Based on a structural engineer’s review, an emergency demolition order has been issued for 87 Bedford Avenue, while structural evaluation of 97 Bedford Avenue remains ongoing.
- Mayor Iafallo

National Fuel released the following statement Monday:

National Fuel has cooperated with Lackawanna Fire and Police representatives and fire investigators from the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.

Testing of the main and service lines on Bedford Avenue as well as soil and atmospheric evaluation showed nothing unusual and no evidence of system malfunction or leaking natural gas. This testing was done under the observation of the New York State Department of Public Service. National Fuel is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the main lines and the service lines up to the house’s meter. The house lines and connections to natural gas equipment and appliances within the home are the responsibility of each customer therefore we are unable to comment on the customer’s piping or equipment.

National Fuel continues to express its condolences to the relatives of Irene Sanok. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time of tremendous loss.

If you suspect a natural gas leak you should leave the premises right away and call National Fuel at 1-800-444-3130. You can find more information here.