When Steve Barrientos was working inside a home in South Philadelphia last week, he had no idea that the gas was on, according to his attorney.
"He had no knowledge of any gas being present in the home at any time," said Jeff Goodman. "And as a result was an innocent victim there when the explosion occurred."
The blast leveled the home at 428 Daly Street. Barrientos suffered second and third-degree burns on his face and upper body, Goodman said.
The explosion also destroyed the adjoining homes on either side, and most everything inside, including the ashes of a beloved family member.
Sean Fulmer represents the family who lived at 430 Daly Street -- a woman, her teenage daughter who was injured, and the woman's boyfriend, who was also treated for minor injuries.
"Although their physical injuries may not be life threatening, they are suffering severe mental anguish," Fulmer said today during an inspection at the site of the explosion.
"Among their possessions, there was an urn. And that contained a family member which they have not been able to locate at this point."
Law firms representing four of the victims were back at the explosion site conducting their own inspection. Goodman said fire origin and natural gas experts were able to confirm today that there was active gas running into the home at 438 Daly Street at the time of the explosion.
"We can tell that based upon the blast patterns, based upon the sidewalk cracking at the site, in fact, even today when we looked, that gas valve was still on," said Goodman.
Barrientos was hired to put down tile in the home, which is owned by SCK Investments and was being rehabbed.
The Philadelphia Fire Department said on the day of the blast that the preliminary cause of the explosion appeared to be a gas leak and Mayor Michael Nutter backed up that claim the next day in a news conference. Nutter said last week that he would not respond to "rumors and speculation" that Barrientos was smoking a cigarette which may have set off the blast. Barrientos' attorney would not answer the question directly today either.
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
"Right now his concern is with treating his injuries and becoming better and getting healthier," Goodman said.