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Gas Explosion Levels Northeast Philadelphia Home

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By Syma Chowdhry, Cherri Gregg, Tim Jimenez

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia police say they have a man in custody in connection with an explosion that leveled a house in Northeast Philadelphia Saturday afternoon.

The explosion happened around 12:30 p.m. on the 4700 block of Howell Street in the Wissinoming section of the city.

Police say 35-year-old Michael Migliaccio will be charged with burglary, criminal trespass, reckless endangerment and a slew of other charges. They say cooper piping was cut and removed from a vacant home resulting in a gas leak that caused the two-story home to blow up and collapse.

Neighbors say they heard a loud bang, saw smoke and dust, and they say there was nothing but metal and wood debris left where a home once stood.

“It wasn’t fireworks,” witness Bobo Beck said. “You could tell it was something that had definitely exploded.”

Neighbors say the explosion was so strong it shook their own home.

“It was a hard boom, something like a car driving into something,” witness Michael Lapatina said.

Fire and rescue crews evacuated about 15 to 20 homes. They say there was no fire but…

“There was smoke everywhere,” witness Jeremy Pierson said. “You couldn’t see anything. It’s scary because that could have been any of these houses on the street.”

The house was vacant and police say it looked stripped down as if it was under construction, but officials say there were no active construction permits for the home.

“It was under reconstruction,” Deputy Chief Robert Coyle said. “It was redone but we don’t know if it was being redone today.”

Authorities say no other nearby homes were damaged. No injuries were reported.

Residents were allowed back home Saturday evening after gas and electricity to the damaged structure was turned off.

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