Explosion Decimates Homes in West Philly

Three homes destroyed, eight people displaced by blast that may have been caused by natural gas

In a matter of seconds, three homes were left in ruin after an explosion rocked West Philadelphia Friday morning.

The explosion happened at Charles and Paula Johnson's home along the 100 block of N. 63rd Street around 10:45 a.m., according to police.

The blast ripped apart the back of the couple's home as well as two adjacent homes leaving a pile of rubble in the alley.

"I'm devastated, I can't believe it," Charles said. The retired Philadelphia police officer and his wife weren't at home at the time of the explosion.

But their neighbor Mary Lorman was; she was sitting in her living room.

"This was like kaboom," Lorman said. "The whole house was shaking like the devil."

The disabled woman lost her solarium and two cars equipped with handicap lifts.

The Johnsons believe the explosion happened in an apartment attached to the back of their house.

"The apartment was empty. The apartment's been empty for a year, my daughter moved out!"

Police say the Philadelphia Gas Works is investigating whether a pressure issue caused the blast.

The explosion has displaced eight residents in all, but fortunately, no one was hurt.

"Honey, I'm alive and my neighbors are alive. We can rebuild everything else," Lorman said.

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