CENTER TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — More than 20 homes were evacuated Monday morning when a methane gas pipeline exploded in Beaver County, which those living nearby say shook the earth.
“It was 5 a.m., and it looked like it was noon,” said evacuee Karen Gdula.
That’s what many people witnessed from their homes on Ivy Lane in Center Township. They witnessed a massive fireball high in the sky with smoke billowing around it.
“My husband literally shook me out of bed, and he said there has been a gas explosion. I could just see flames going up in the air,” evacuee Toni DeMarco said.
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DeMarco filmed the explosion on her cell phone in the front yard of her home. After that, she and her husband were ordered by police to leave the neighborhood.
“I don’t even know what’s going on with my house and my car. I know it’s material possessions, but still I feel bad for my neighbors, they lost everything,” said DeMarco.
DeMarco is one of about 30 people who had to evacuate the neighborhood. That’s about 25 homes.
The Center Township Fire Department is using their fire hall for the evacuees and the Red Cross was providing food, supplies and cots for people to sleep on.
“My husband and I were asleep and it sounded like there was an 18-wheeler that was right outside our bedroom window, and the earth shook, that’s what woke us up, then the explosion,” said Gdula.
Rachelle Barness is on dialysis and wasn’t sure she could get to treatment.
“Scares you when there is a disaster like that because when you have a medical condition you just don’t know when your treatment is going to come,” she said.
The ordeal, equally scary for evacuee Barbara Goblick, who takes insulin three times daily.
“It’s like when you’re on a roller coaster and then it goes down, that’s what I felt, shock,” she said.
From every corner of the community, food poured in. In another corner, Diesel the German Shepherd stood watch over his sleeping family. He pulled the family’s teen daughter out of bed Monday morning after the explosion.
And in another corner of the fire hall, a new dad.
“We just gave birth to our third child this morning,” Ryan Curley said.
Curley and wife had just pulled out of Ivy Street to head to the hospital, leaving their two young boys with their grandma. Like everyone else, they saw the sky light up, but in their rear view mirror.
“We has just gotten on to Brodhead Road and we were driving into Aliquippa,” Curley said. “Part of me wanted to turn around.”
Beaver County 911 says all those who were evacuated were allowed back into their homes around 2:30 p.m.
All evacuees from the incident in Center Township this morning can return to their residence, this now includes the people who reside on Ivy Lane and Pine Street. There will also be aerial activity along the powerline being performed for inspection purposes.
— Beaver Co. Emerg Svc (@BeaverCounty911) September 10, 2018
“I just thank God the neighbors are all safe and everybody was able to get out of the neighborhood,” said Gdula.
One home was destroyed.
That was the home of Sam Rosati and his wife. Rosati said they managed to get out in the nick of time, along with their niece, about 10 minutes before their home burst into flames. He said one of their dogs and four cats likely didn’t make it.
Rosati says he was growing increasingly concerned with how close the enormous gas line was to his home, combined with the wet weather and sliding hillside.