Springdale Borough, PA – By Lynda Guydon Taylor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
After a slumber party with her children at a friend’s house, Maria Hummel woke to the news yesterday that her husband, David Hummel, had been burned in an explosion at their Springdale Borough home.
Springdale Borough firefighters responded to the call at 342 Moyhend St. at 6:50 a.m. Fire Chief Kevin Wilhelm arrived to find Hummel lying on the sidewalk in front of his home.
A neighbor who declined to be identified said she heard a loud boom that shook her house and thought at the time it was lightening.
The explosion and fire followed a call about a suspected gas leak at a next door neighbor’s home the previous night.
Jay Dawson, vice president for legal affairs at T.W. Phillips Gas and Oil Co., confirmed Hummel’s neighbor called to report a natural gas leak, characterized by a rotten egg smell.
Phillips, based in Butler, dispatched employees who found no evidence of a leak.
Dawson said the explosion was under investigation.
When dealing with underground pipe lines, it takes some time to investigate, and it’s likely it will be a couple of days before anything is known, he said.
Representatives of Phillips and the Allegheny County Fire Marshal remained at the scene late yesterday afternoon.
April Anderson of Lincoln Street, on the other end of town, said she and her children hosted a get-together with Maria Hummel and her two children, Kearstin, 10, and Sammy, about 14 months.
Anderson said she had gotten to know the family while caring for Anderson’s since-deceased grandmother, Celeste Miller, who lived across the street from the Hummels.
Early yesterday morning, the slumber party was awakened when the children’s grandmother called Maria Hummel to tell her there had been an explosion at her home and the house was on fire.
They later heard the fire whistle blow. Springdale Borough Station 273, Springdale Township Station 81, New Kensington Company 56-1 and Cheswick Station 121 responded to the call as did Lower Valley Ambulance.
Hummel was taken to Mercy Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition.
The Hummel house was destroyed and the two on either side of it sustained exterior wall, roof and attic damage.
The fire was brought under control in an hour and a half, Wilhelm said. No evacuation of residents was necessary.
Another potentially dangerous situation was averted in Penn Hills yesterday.
A gas leak occurred there at 8:20 a.m., causing about a three-hour evacuation of residents in the 2900 block of Universal Road.
Lightning struck a gas well, puncturing the line, police said. Surrounding woods were set on fire.
The blaze affected a primarily residential area of Universal between Woodstone Drive in Penn Hills and Deborah Jane Court in Plum.
Penn Hills fire companies 6 and 3 responded. Peoples Dominion Gas was called to shut down the line and make repairs. Residents returned to their homes by noon.