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Allentown PA Gas Explosion Results in Loss of Eight Homes and Five Deaths

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A gas explosion in Allentown, PA Wednesday night resulted in the deaths of three people. As of noon on Thursday, two people (an elderly couple) are still missing, while the bodies of three people have been recovered including a baby and toddler according to NBC 10.

The gas explosion occurred at the Gross Towers Seniors Apartments Complex in downtown Allentown late Wednesday night. The blast, which occurred at 10:45 P.M. was so powerful it could be felt in Bethlehem and Northhampton.

UGI, Utilities Inc. believes that one of their gas pipelines exploded, but will not confirm it just yet. "I think we are going under the assumption that it is a gas explosion, but it has not been confirmed to be the case," Joseph Swope, a UGI company spokesman told the Allentown Morning Call.  UGI workers were able to shut off the leaking gas line at around 4:00 A.M.

According to the Allentown Morning Call, Allentown Fire Chief Scheirer said during a news conference at about 3 a.m. that two people, ages 74 and 79, were in the demolished house and were missing. In an update an hour later, he said crews were searching for people missing from three homes on the block of the explosion.

At a press conference at 11:30 A.M. this morning, Allentown Fire Chief Robert Scheirer confirmed the third death.

47 properties total, including 10 businesses, were affected by the gas explosion . A total of 350 people were displaced at the height of the fire. Seventy of those displacements are likely to be displaced long term.

According to the Huffington Post, 500 of the 600 evacuated Allentown, PA residents have been allowed to return to their homes.

Fire Chief Scheirer said the investigation is now a recovery, mop up, and investigative operation.

Contact Dennis Bakay at dbakay@philly2philly.com