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Syracuse house explosion and collapse injures 13, blamed on natural gas line in basement

People injured in Syracuse house collapse
House collapse in Syracuse, New York, injures 11 people 01:41

A house exploded and collapsed in Syracuse, New York, Tuesday afternoon, injuring 13 people, officials said. In an update Friday, investigators said they had found a natural gas line in the basement open and uncapped, which led to the explosion. 

Fire District Chief Matthew Craner said at a briefing Wednesday that the fire and police departments were working with the theory that the explosion was natural gas-related, and that there was no sign of criminality. Neighbors had reported smelling gas in the area.

Syracuse Fire Chief Michael Monds told reporters Tuesday that crews responded to multiple 911 calls about an "explosion" and collapse at the two-story home, arriving to find "multiple victims outside." Firefighters had to pull at least one youth out of a car buried in the rubble, he said.

"The building was indeed collapsed," Monds said. "It was a very dangerous scene. There were power lines down and the dangerous odor of gas."

Police and fire officials will be investigating what caused the collapse of the home, which dates to 1920, the fire chief said.  

In a follow-up news briefing late Tuesday night, Monds said extensive searches of the home using K9s found no bodies. The fire chief said there were believed to be 13 people inside the home when the collapse occurred, and all have been accounted for. Initial reports said 11 people were injured in the collapse. 

House collapses after suspected gas explosion in Syracuse, New York
First responders work at the site of a house collapse due to a suspected gas explosion in Syracuse, New York, on June 18, 2024. Caitlin Louisa Eddolls/REUTERS

"We have no reason to believe that nobody is unaccounted for," Monds said. "All the people — from the bystanders and people that were in the home — are saying that there were 13 people."

The 13 who were in the home were brought to a local hospital, the fire department said in a late night news release. Officials said in a news conference Wednesday morning that the injured were in either stable or critically stable condition, but did not provide other information. 

Monds said the patients included children and adults from two families. One family was renting the home and the other was visiting. The homeowners have also been contacted as part of an investigation into the cause of the explosion. 

The couple renting the home was identified in a news release as Alam Bin Abdul Rahman, 42, and Rajumah Begum Binti Dil Mohammad, 33. Both are in stable condition. They have five children, ranging from 13 to 3 years old. The four older children are in stable condition. The 3-year-old is in critically stable condition. 

The parents of the visiting family were identified as Mohamad Alam Sayed Alam, 34, and Yasmida Nur Muhammad, 29. Both are in stable condition. They have four children ranging from 5 years to 8 months old. The 5-year-old child is in stable condition, while their 4-year-old child was not admitted after initial treatment. The two youngest children are in critically stable condition. 

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said Wednesday that the home would be demolished after the investigation was complete. The gas line to the home has been cut off by National Grid, Walsh said.  

A neighbor told CBS Syracuse affiliate WTVH that whatever caused the house to collapse shook his house around the block, and that it caused ashes to cover the sidewalk. 

More than 50 firefighters responded to the collapse and had to be rotated in and out due to the extreme heat that bore down on Syracuse and other parts of the country Tuesday, Monds said.

Walsh said he spoke with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul about the incident.

"Gov. Hochul reached out directly, I spoke with her," Walsh said. "Commissioner of Homeland Security for New York state reached out as I was on my way to the scene, (and also) spoke with the county executive. And again, just a credit to all agencies involved, but  especially our first responders."

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