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Video: Deadly blast rattles Philly neighborhood

NBC News and msnbc.com
updated 1/19/2011 4:24:01 PM ET 2011-01-19T21:24:01

An explosion in a gas main in northeast Philadelphia spawned a three-alarm fire that left one person dead and five injured and prompted evacuation of several dozen residents.

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Fire dispatchers said a gas and water main break was reported at 6900 Torresdale Avenue in the Tacony neighborhood at about 7:19 p.m. ET Tuesday, and an explosion occurred at about 8:30 p.m.

The dramatic blast was caught on tape by an NBC Philadelphia videographer.

Dozens of people were evacuated from nearby homes and businesses, according to NBC Philadelphia.

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The cause of the blast was not immediately known. Authorities said the fire was brought under control just before 11 p.m.

Dispatchers said the body of a Philadelphia Gas Works employee reported unaccounted for earlier was being taken to the medical examiner's office.

Video: Watch the deadly gas explosion, 50-foot fireball (on this page)

Executive Fire Chief Daniel Williams told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the explosion set fire to at least two homes and a PGW truck. A water main also reportedly broke.

"Oh man! It just blew up the whole street," Jim Campoli, 61, told the newspaper. He described how the fireball rose 50 feet into the air, shook houses in the neighborhood and knocked over a man standing next to him.

Four other PGW employees and a firefighter were taken to nearby Torresdale Hospital, where a hospital spokeswoman said four were in critical condition. At least one had been transferred to a burn center.

PGW spokesman Cameron Kline told the Inquirer that the injured firefighter was in stable condition.

NBC News, The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

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