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NTSB releases preliminary report for Youngstown gas explosion that left 1 person dead

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Posted at 2:10 PM, Jun 18, 2024

The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report on a natural gas-fueled explosion that happened at the Realty Tower Building in Youngstown on May 28 that left one person dead and nine injured.

There was significant damage to the 13-story building, which featured a bank, offices, and residences.

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According to the report, the city of Youngstown contracted GreenHeart, a residential building company, to remove and relocate utilities in preparation for a city road improvement project. At the time, a four-person crew was removing old items from the basement area underneath the sidewalk.

A site supervisor told the NTSB that they did not have any knowledge that the gas pipes in the basement of the Realty Tower Building were still active. As a crewmember was halfway through cutting into one of the pipes with a reciprocating saw, he began hearing a whistling sound and felt gas blowing onto his face.

The crew immediately exited the area and called 911 to report the gas leak. The fire alarm was pulled at 2:39 p.m. and bank workers were also notified on the first floor of the leak. The Youngstown Fire Department also received calls from the public about a gas odor minutes before the explosion.

The explosion happened at 2:44 p.m. Multiple emergency crews responded to the incident

The NTSB discovered that the gas line, which was supposed to be inactive, was pressurized with natural gas to about 38 pounds per square inch, the report stated. The line was fixed the next day and there were no other reports of leaks.

Last week, residents of a nearby apartment building were ordered to leave their homes after an engineering firm determined that the neighboring Realty Tower building remains structurally unsafe and is in “danger of imminent collapse.”

RELATED: Youngstown orders apartment building evacuation after deadly blast at neighboring site

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