Explosion at Massachusetts House Kills 1

December 19, 2008

One man has been killed and a neighbor taken to a hospital after a home in Scituate exploded, heavily damaging several homes nearby and breaking windows up to a third of a mile away.

Fire Chief Richard Judge did not identify the man killed Wednesday in the 2:30 p.m. blast on Turner Street.

Judge said a woman who lived across the street was taken to a hospital. No serious injuries were reported.

Kim Chubbuck, the destroyed home’s owner who was at work when it exploded, told reporters at the scene she was concerned that her boyfriend was in the house.

Neighbors said their windows broke and items were knocked off shelves as smoke filled the immediate area. Debris including clothing and furniture was strewn around, some hanging from trees. The destroyed house was reduced to its foundation.

“I thought a bomb went off, it was that bad. It looked like a war zone, it really did,” said Jean Rubino. “All you heard was this boom, boom, boom…You never think that that can happen in your neighborhood and it did.”

John Galluzzo, who lives across the street, told The Patriot Ledger of Quincy the explosion knocked him to the ground. He said he lost seven windows and the explosion blew open his cellar door.

Judge said seven neighboring houses were damaged, and four are uninhabitable. The street was evacuated and power and natural gas shut off for a time as a precaution.

Don DiNunno, a spokesman for Bay State Gas, said a neighbor next door to the house called to report a strong odor of gas at 1:57 p.m. He said a company technician was en route when the fire department notified Bay State at 2:35 that the house had blown up.

DiNunno said the company had not done any recent work at the property and had no crews working in the area at the time of the explosion. He said the cause is still under investigation. Gas service had been restored at mid-evening to the houses in the neighborhood that are habitable, he said.

Wompatuck Elementary School is about three-tenths of a mile from the scene. “The neighbors were running down the street making sure their kids were OK,” Rubino said.

“Fortunately, it was before school got released,” Judge said. “It was a blessing in disguse there.”

The fire chief said 15 people had to leave their homes and the town is working with the Red Cross to provide any needed shelter.

“Our hearts go out to his family,” Judge said of the man who died. “It’s the Christmas season no one wants to see something like this.”

AP-ES-12-17-08 2156EST

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