An explosion in a residential suburb outside Pittsburgh on Saturday morning left five people dead and three injured, county officials said.
The explosion and large fire in Plum, Pennsylvania, a suburb northeast of Pittsburgh, destroyed three houses and damaged at least a dozen more, authorities said.
First responders who rushed to Plum found people trapped under debris and took three people to a hospital. Of the three, two have been released and the third is in the hospital in critical condition, according to police.
The remains of five victims – four adults and one adolescent – were also found at the scene.
The incident appeared to begin when one house exploded, engulfing two neighboring homes in flames as well, according to the county. Multiple other homes were damaged with windows blown out.
Crews from 18 different fire departments converged on the scene to put out the flames and sift through the rubble as “several” people remained unaccounted for Saturday afternoon.
The aftermath of an explosion in Plum, Pennsylvania, on Saturday.
It’s unclear what triggered the explosion. Authorities say the cause is still under investigation.
Gas systems were “operating as designed” at the time of the explosion, said Michael Huwar, the president of the gas service Peoples Natural Gas. Still, gas service was shut off to a number of homes in the neighborhood as a precaution.
A company spokesperson told CNN on Sunday its crews continue to work and coordinate with the Allegheny County Fire Marshal, which is leading the investigation.
Ring doorbell video obtained by CNN affiliate WTAE appears to show one of the homes exploding in a ball of fire, shooting up a thick plume of smoke and scattering debris in the area.
The aftermath of the blast and blaze can be seen in aerial footage of the neighborhood, which shows three structures completely burned to the ground, surrounded by heavy debris covering surrounding lawns and homes. Several cars near the scorched area could also be seen charred black and smoking.
“I heard this ‘boom.’ It was so loud that it woke me up. I thought it was thunder from the storms last night,” neighbor Alexis Typanski told WTAE. “My water bottle fell on me instantaneously. I was shaking. It scared me so bad.”
By 4:30 p.m. local time, the area was still considered an “active scene” and first responders were expected to remain there for hours, according to the county. Plum is about 15 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
Gas was turned off in the area while emergency crews worked at the scene, authorities said at a news conference, adding multiple representatives from different gas companies were at the scene.
The Red Cross and Salvation Army are assisting residents impacted by the explosion, the county said.