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The Syracuse Fire Department's Bureau of Investigation determined that a leak in a natural gas line caused the collapse of a north-side home that injured two families Tuesday, Fire Chief Michael Monds said Friday afternoon. press conference.

Monds said a gas explosion in the basement of the house caused the collapse, which sent 11 people to the hospital Tuesday afternoon. That was consistent with initial reports of a strong smell of gas at the scene. Authorities have not yet determined what caused the explosion, he said.

The SFD began investigating the cause of the explosion on Wednesday, along with the Syracuse Police Department, National Grid, the New York State Public Service Commission and an agent from the local field office of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, after focusing primarily on rescue efforts on Tuesday, Monds said.

After National Grid was unable to find a problem with the gas line in the street, the investigation team turned its focus to possible causes in the house, Monds said. Investigators removed the gas meter in the basement and examined the two natural gas lines in the house. One of those lines, which was supposed to be connected to a clothes dryer, was found open and uncapped, he said. There was no clothes dryer at the scene and the line was not connected to any appliance.



“There was a shutoff valve attached to this particular gas line, and it turns out that this shutoff valve was fully open,” Monds said. “The cause and origin of the explosion was determined to be a free-flowing natural gas leak … in the area of ​​the basement where a dryer connection should have been located.”

Investigators believe the line's shutoff valve had been open since at least 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, because that's when the department began receiving calls reporting gas odors around the house, said Capt. Joseph Fenell of the Fire Investigation Bureau. None of the 13 people who were in the house at the time reported turning on the gas line, he said.

Fenell said the investigation team suspects the valve may have been opened accidentally. After the investigation, SFD, SPD and the Onondaga County District Attorney's Office confirmed there were no active building code violations in the home at the time of the explosion, he said. Police do not currently plan to file charges in connection with the incident, Monds said.

Because the gas line in the basement was open, Fennel said, turning on a light switch, for example, could have triggered the explosion.

Monds also gave updates at Friday's conference on the status of some of the collapse victims — two families with a total of four adults and nine children. Eleven people were admitted to SUNY Upstate University Hospital following the collapse. As of Thursday evening, five have been released from the hospital and three are in “good condition,” he said.

The two youngest victims, a 2-year-old and an 8-month-old, were still in critical condition Thursday, Monds said.

After the city completes its investigation, it will begin demolishing the building on which the house stood, Monds said.

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Contact Julia: [email protected]

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