2 Killed In West Haven Condo Explosion
12:15 PM EDT,August 13, 2002
By DIANE SCARPONI , The Associated Press
WEST HAVEN, Conn. -- Two people were killed and at least five injured when an explosion sent a fireball into the air and leveled three units at the Orchard Hills condominium complex early today.
The 3:30 a.m. explosion wrecked one end of an eight-unit building and damaged all 46 units in the complex, Fire Chief William Johnson said. Seventy-three people were left homeless, Johnson said.
"The entire complex is uninhabitable at this time," he said.
Debra White, who lives in an adjacent building, said the explosion threw her out of bed and blew out all the doors and windows in her building.
"We ran through the woods out the back door to escape," said White, who suffered a minor leg injury.
Edith Brown, who also lives in an adjacent building, said the blast was like an earthquake.
"I looked outside and everybody was hollering and screaming and the children were crying," she said. "People were running away."
West Haven Mayor Richard Borer Jr. identified the dead as Vivian Tindell, 47, and Conrad Palmer, 70, who lived in separate units.
Foster Tindell, Vivian's 52-year-old husband, was in guarded condition with a head injury at Yale-New Haven Hospital, a hospital official said. Johnson said Tindell was literally blown out of his home.
A family of four in the third unit were able to crawl out of a hole in the building and suffered only minor injuries, officials said.
Five people - two children and three adults - were taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital, spokesman Mark D'Antonio said. The children, ages 2 and 6, were released after treatment for shock, he said.
Another man, whose age was not available, was still being evaluated in the emergency department but did not appear to have life-threatening injuries, D'Antonio said.
A pregnant woman, whose age was also not available, was in the labor and delivery department for evaluation. The woman's pregnancy is about 20 weeks along, and the condition of the fetus was not immediately available, D'Antonio said.
Neighbors tried to rescue Palmer but could not reach him, said Paul Hardy, the president of the condominium association.
"The heat was too intense, we couldn't get to him," he said.
The explosion shook the entire city, setting off car alarms blocks away, and left the neighborhood without gas or electric service.
Over 200 people were evacuated, although residents of the neighborhood surrounding the complex were being allowed to return at midday. An emergency shelter was established at the Carrigan Middle School, and Borer said arrangements were being made to house condo residents in hotels.
Police initially called the incident a natural gas explosion, but Southern Connecticut Gas spokeswoman Romilda Anderson and Johnson said later that the cause had not been determined.
"We're looking at all possibilities," Johnson said.
John McNulty, who lives around the corner from the complex, said a fireball traveled hundreds of feet in the air and bathed the neighborhood in bright light.
Inspectors from the state fire marshal's office and the Department of Public Utility Control were on the scene. Building inspectors were going door-to-door to evaluate the damage, Borer said.
Pictures, video, story available at http://www.ctnow.com/news/custom/new...nes%2Dbreaking
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08-13-2002, 03:13 PM #1
2 Killed In West Haven Condo ExplosionIACOJ Agitator
Fightin' Da Man Since '78!
08-13-2002, 10:39 PM #2
- Join Date
- May 2002
Unless the condo was found to be warehousing chemicals or other illegals itís going to be hard to consider anything other than a gas leak. By the look of the building it must have filled the cellar and ignited.
Connecticut seems to get one really good gas explosion every few years. Middletown had one several years ago in a house that was just completing construction, that explosion cleaned the house right off the foundation. Fortunately no one was in the house so no one was injured. Before that (several years, I donít remember how many) Derby lost a building in the business district.
It would be interesting to hear about the frequency of gas explosion/fires in other parts of the country. Is this the same frequency as other areas? My district has natural and propane gas service but oil is still the most popular so explosions have been very rare (and I hope it stays that way!).
08-15-2002, 03:14 AM #3
WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Investigators said they were focusing
Wednesday on natural gas as the likely cause of a condominium
explosion that killed two people.
The explosion appears to have originated at Unit 7 of the
Orchard Hill Condominium complex - the middle unit of the three
units that exploded early Tuesday morning, Fire Chief William
"We are looking into the possibility of a natural gas explosion
in the vicinity of Unit 7. What caused the explosion and where the
gas emitted from is still under investigation," Johnson said.
The condos had furnaces and stoves that ran on natural gas.
Residents of 16 of the 46 units in the condo complex might be
able to return to their homes Wednesday, Johnson said. Units closer
to the blast are still being inspected, and it may be days before
some people can return home.
The entire complex was evacuated after the explosion, which
happened at 3:29 a.m.
All but two of the residents stayed Tuesday night with friends
or relatives. Other condo residents are continuing to get food and
other needs at an American Red Cross shelter that was set up at a
The needs of some people, who escaped their homes in the middle
of the night with little but the clothes on their backs, have been
assessed by the Red Cross. The charity plans to issue vouchers
Thursday so families can buy clothes and other necessities, said
spokeswoman Jane Wasyliw.
The Red Cross, which planned to operate its shelter at least
until Thursday evening, also offered counseling for people who were
dealing with the shock of the explosion and the grief over losing
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