NOW LIVE: Eyewitness News

1 Dead, 5 Injured In Tacony Gas Explosion

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As of Wednesday evening, sources told Eyewitness News, three PGW workers — Keith Henderson, Kevin Sommerville and Bill Mahoney — remain in critical but stable condition at Temple University Hospital’s Burn Unit.

According to the firefighters union President, Bill Gault, firefighter Don Pearl was treated and released.

“That was a bad scene last night. We were very lucky,” Gault said.

Natasha Brown reports…

The union president added, a fire lieutenant also suffered minor injuries in the explosion.

Sources confirmed a fourth PGW worker, Gilbert Velasquez, was released from the hospital overnight and is at home recovering from a minor concussion. >>> See: Photos From The Scene

A fifth PGW worker, first reported missing, was later confirmed dead at the scene. On Wednesday, the deceased victim was identified as 19-year-old Mark Keeley. According to his Facebook page, Keeley is an avid sports fan, a recent Cardinal Dougherty grad who just started work with the gas company.

Back at the scene of the blast, it was clear, Keeley’s death was heartbreaking for so many who didn’t even know him.


Georgeanne Huff-Labovits is one of them. She owns a building at the scene of the explosion that could soon be torn down but her concerns remained with the grieving family.

“This family lost somebody and that’s sad. This can all be rebuilt. That kid’s life can’t come back and it’s so sad,” Labovitz added.

Eyewitness News also learned funeral arrangements were finalized. The viewing is set for Friday and the 19-year-old will be laid to rest on Saturday.

The exact cause of the deadly explosion remains under investigation.

Reported By Elizabeth Hur, CBS 3


READ: Worker Killed In Massive Gas Explosion
READ: Prosecutors: Lewd Pics Sought To Drive Teen To Suicide
READ: Woman Bares All Before Entering Police Station
SLIDESHOW: Celebrities Getting Hitched
MUST SEE: Philadelphia Soul ‘Soulmate’ Dance Finals


One Comment

  1. Beverly says:

    It really isn’t important enough to be arguing over who heard or felt the explosion and where they’re located. Life’s too short to be so petty. Please – just think good thoughts and prayers for those poor people who’s lives have been affected by such a tragedy. How devastating it is to lose a child, friend and co-worker and so young he was. I will keep them in my prayers and thank God my children are home in bed, warm and safe. God Bless you all!

  2. One who knows says:

    My heartfelt sympathies to the Keeley Family. I understand Mark was a wonderful young man who knew how to do his job. I am praying for Keith, Bill and Kevin that they have the strength to make a full recovery. I also pray for the other PGW workers who were at the scene when the explosion occurred not understanding why they were spared injury. God bless all of you who put your life on the line each and every day for all of us: PGW workers, Fire Fighters, Police Officers – you could NEVER be paid enough or praised enough for what you do. The next time you see one of these heroes on the street, why not give them a smile, a nod, and a thank you!

  3. Seashore Lady says:

    My mother’s family is from Tacony. As a kid, I walked this particular block many, many times in the 60s when Woolworth’s anchored the end of the block at Longshore and Kessler’s clothing store at Disston St. Best place of all was Rudolph’s bakery with its stainless front and store door. My grandmother bought all her dresses at Jean’s Dress Shop.

    So sorry to hear of so much damage and loss of a young man’s life.

    Can anyone tell me if the “mansion” on Disston between Marsden and Torresdale is the retirement home mentioned in many of the news stories? It was built by the owner of the large bridal shop on Torresdale across the street from Kesslers’ and down the block from PSFS. These businesses are long gone but I thought someone out there might know.

  4. robert says:

    sound travels easier and faster over large bodies of water,duh.

  5. Stan says:

    Felt it in Palmyra, sounded like someone hit our front door. As I got up to check i said to the wife half joking maybe it’s another explosion ( there was a house that blew up in Cinnaminson last week that did the same ) then found out thru my nephew who lives on 6900 Ditman about the gas explosion. Ours prayers to everyone thats been affected.

  6. Jay says:

    Mark Keeley was one of the nicest, funniest guys around. Everyone loved him. This is a tough loss. The world has lost a wonderful guy. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and countless friends. R.I.P. Mark. He will be missed greatly

  7. Melanie says:

    I live on 6900 block of Gillespie, 4 blocks directly west of the explosion site, on the other side of Disston Rec Park. I thought a car or truck had slammed into the house. Very loud, very scary. I could see people streaming across the park to the blast site to look – didn’t want to be one of them. I never saw so many emergency vehicles in my life.

  8. nutzo53 says:

    “This is still a very serious situation, every possible department and agency from fire to police to L&I, office of emergency management and the department of public safety is here as well,” said Mayor Nutter.

    Mayor Nutter: Philadelphia DOES NOT have a “Department of Public Safety”. WAKE UP

    1. J says:

      City of Philadelphia Department of Public Safety
      1401 JFK Blvd, Ste 1430
      Philadelphia, PA, 19102

  9. Angel Rodriguez says:

    will be praying for this sad news.

  10. liz r says:

    sending good wishes and sympathies from illinois. one of my old managers lives in that area, hope they’re ok.

  11. A Member PGW Family says:

    Why not say a prayer for the men who are hurt and the one man who is missing. Or about the families of these people. STOP all this stupid stuff

    1. Mark says:

      Thank you for this. I pray your family is all right – and God bless their efforts to protect the people of this community.

    2. Prayers from Georgia says:

      Our prayers are with all the families and residents of that area.

    3. Tricia says:

      I agree! A young man Mark Keeley was killed in the explosion. He can not be replaced a building and business can. The families involved can rebuild. Mark;s family can not get him back. Prayers for the family and friends of Mark.

  12. Hammy t says:

    I live in bridesburg and felt nothing.

  13. Tu-mai says:

    very true, people from new jersey or across the river can feel a lot of the vibration through the water that was carried across…….and mark should be a news reporter hes telling everyone here what they already know. You have had about
    thirty blogs in a matter of minutes…..we get it guy YOU WERE THERE AND ITS OBVIOUSLY SERIOUS.

    1. Mark says:

      Nothing like anger over expressions of sympathy. Way cool, Tu-mai. Hope you get that keyboard fixed.

  14. Chris says:

    Henry – I’m in Willingboro, too and definitely heard something unusual, but I think it was later than 8:30

  15. Barbara Vermillion says:

    Can someone tell mewhere this has happened? I’m in Arizona and my daughter and her kids live on that block. Is the whole block on fire? So very concerned. Please help me with some information.

    1. mark says:

      No, the whole block is not on fire. It’s the west side of the 6900 block of Torresdale, zip 19135. Between Longshore and Disston. Everyone had been reported as evacuated. The injured are gas company (PGW) employees and firefighters

  16. Joe says:

    Knorr and Walker, had windows slightly open in bedrooms and blast slammed them shut..

  17. Art says:

    to those who say they felt and heard nothing can you explain how it is that windows in houses and business for blocks around the area have been blown out

  18. Donna says:

    @ Mark what do you mean “mark

    yeah….we just has another gas explosion on the7700 block of Torresdale!. That’s north of Cottman, Certainly North of Disston.

    1. mark says:

      There was only 1 explosion…. it was at disston and torresdale, the 6900 block. I’m sure you felt it hard on the 7700 block. I’m, freaked about this….. I know too many people affected by this. I was there 3 minutes before the explosion. Everyone had been evacuated. And now KYW just reported that Camden fired half of their fire and police force. ARE THEY CRAZY?? What if what just happened here happens there??

  19. Joe Ormsby says:


    1. gosia says:

      People are hurt!! What’s wrong with you Theresa… you are around the corner and all you can think to do is get online to insult the posters who care about those hurt people?

  20. Catherine Mullen-Battle says:

    maybe those across the river have pipes that run threw palmyra wether u felt it herd it or jus no it happened it is still a blessing that we r still here to leave comments hopefully they can work it out quickly and pplcan get back into htere homes! God Bless everyone!

    1. Bob says:

      Exactly my thoughts. Seems that most of the comments are whether one heard it or not and that for those that didnt hear it are having a hard time understanding or believing that it happened

  21. mark says:

    Oh my God. is Smith’s Hardware gone? That store is the lifeblood of Joe and Shiela. The video shows several stores gone! This is horrible.

    1. R.P. says:

      Which news/ website did you see that on? Its horrible thinking about all the businesses, employees, and people affected.

      1. mark says:

        the video on this site….. the general area of the fire includes Smith’s.

  22. Christine Dunne says:

    I fealt it at walker and bleigh, shook my front door.

  23. Gina says:

    I love on Marple st and heard a big bang and the house rumbled we didnt know what happen then we heard all the sirens

  24. melissa says:

    I was in a local chuch when it happened. Scariest ever. I thought the building was coming down.

  25. Marge Wilson says:

    I Live on Glenloch Street , a half block from Princeton Avenue. My husband and I heard it and felt it. It shook the house and the other houses on the block.

  26. mark says:

    Theresa, you are as seriously ill woman. people are hurt and all you want to do is tell scared, worried people how much better you are than they. get some help.

    1. theresa says:

      Mark, I am right around the corner..I know what is going on. All I meant was it is pretty strange that most of the comments of people “hearing and feeling” something are from New Jersery! Get over your self!!!

  27. Jenn says:

    Very strange that the locals heard nothing and people across the river heard and felt the explosion.

    1. mark says:

      What’s wrong with you? Everyone on my street came out and wondered what the blazes happened? Everyone felt the explosion! Jenn, do you have a life? Do you have a conscience?

  28. g says:

    I live at frankford & cottman didnt feel or hear anything..

  29. mark says:

    2 explosions in 2 weeks: First, Cinnaminson and now here in Tacony. My friend’s business is probably destroyed.Oh, Lord. Thank God there were no casualties.

  30. Ann says:

    I live around the corner and was in bed watching TV when it occured. The only thing I can compare to explain what it felt like is that it reminded me of when Allied chemical blew up in the eighties. The entire house shook so hard I nearly fell out of my bed. I don’t know what buildings if any are on fire but I can see the smoke and the fire light from my back porch. I pray that everyone in the Disston elderly home that is only feet away from where the explosion is reported to of happened and any people who live in the apartments above several busiiness in the area are alright. Loss of property is horrible but loss of live is tragic

  31. Henry says:

    I live in Willingboro NJ I though I feel something about 830 pm

    1. gosia says:

      Theresa, you are just around the corner, and instead of showing any concern for the people whose lives just got turned upside-down, you insult people who care??

      1. theresa says:

        gosia..who is insulting who in this conversation?? YOU have no idea what kind of concern I am showing!!!!

  32. Dan says:

    Yea, we are over in Riverton.. We thought a tree fell on the house. House shook, all our neighbors came out too.. I can see orange sky over near the bridge in Philly..

  33. tom says:

    i smelled gas it when i got off i-95 at cottman ave around 7 pm. i live cottman and the blvd and heard nothing.

  34. mirka says:

    we felt it too all the way in palmyra! crazy! there was an explosion just last week somewhere in the area and now another… wow

  35. Sarah says:

    According to the scanner everyone has been accounted for civilian..gas workers…and firemen. Good news.

    1. mark says:

      very good news!!!!!!!!!

  36. Dave says:

    3 PGW and 1 firefighter were taken to the hospital, all firefighters and PGW workers are accounted for.

  37. Tim says:

    i wish the city took more care of its self and maybe this could have been avoided.

    1. mark says:

      Dude……. life is risky!

  38. mark says:

    I had pulled over 3 blocks away to call one of the business owners of that area, a friend. that’s when the explosion rocked the neighborhood. It actually moved my car! The street behind the buildings lit up,

  39. Joe Ormsby says:


  40. R.P. says:

    It was in Tacony. Disston & Torresdale, near the 7-11. Neighbors with cable are reporting loss of service. Many local streets are blocked. We felt the blast just after 8:30pm. Some residents were/ are being evacuated to the Disston Rec Center.

  41. mark says:

    tacony was 8:34 pm. I was there at the exlposion site at 8:31 pm.

  42. Jenn says:

    All the way across the river really? Wow, I live about 2 miles away from there in mayfair and didnt hear a thing

  43. mark says:

    yeah….we just has another gas explosion on the7700 block of Torresdale!

  44. Jeanette says:

    I live across the river in Palmyra. I could feel and I heard the explosion. My house shook and the windows rattled.

    1. theresa says:

      really jeanette…thats hard to believe when i live 5 blocks away and heard NOTHING….

      1. Brad says:

        I live in Palmyra as well – right on the river. I heard a bang and my bed even shook!

      2. Raymond says:

        i the same amount of blocks heard and saw nothing till i saw cbs3 breaking news.

      3. Jeanette says:

        I know! It was unbelievable! I didn’t know what it was. I thought something hit our building.

      4. Michelle says:

        Theresa were u under a rock???? That was THE WORST thing i have ever felt & heard…sooo scary…& i live 3 blocks away!!!! OHH and another thing when the house in Cinnaminson exploded last week I aslo heard that & felt it as well….sooo YES people across the river can hear & see the fire & explosion!!!!

Comments are closed.

More From CBS Philly

Getaway Guide: Best Of The Jersey Cape Clams

Watch & Listen LIVE