Woman badly burned in Harrison mobile home explosion

Before a blast ripped apart a Pleasant Road residence early Wednesday, Charlotte Baker didn’t budge at the ruckus outside her home in Harrison.

She described a small popping sound, like a gunshot or firecrackers, right before the colossal boom that sent her scrambling to her upstairs window. Flames and smoke towered above what was once a trailer home right down the street.

“Can’t you hear it?” Ms. Baker shouted at the 911 dispatcher. More booms, at least two others she said, sounded off in the background. “It’s blowing up. There’s a lady that lives in there.”

Tom Wesoloski, fire chief for the Hilltop Hose Company, told KDKA-TV the woman inside the home jumped out of a window following the explosion. Propane tanks used to heat the home caught fire and exploded, the chief added.

As of Wednesday afternoon, no official cause has been cited in the blast as the Allegheny County fire marshal’s office continues its investigation.

The woman inside the trailer, who has yet to be identified, is believed to have been severely injured with burns over at least 25 percent of her body, officials said, and was transported to UPMC Mercy. Firefighters responded shortly before 2 a.m., Harrison police said.

This is the second propane-related explosion this month to have decimated a residence. A Beaver County couple were killed two weeks ago as they slept when a blast, likely caused by a propane gas leak officials said, splintered their one-story ranch home. 

Immediately following the Pleasant Road explosion, Ms. Baker ran from her house toward the trailer. Several smaller exploding sounds came from the inside the rubble.

“[The trailer] was totally on fire,” she said. 

By this time, the woman inside had already escaped the flames, a neighbor told Ms. Baker, and lay on a blanket on the ground set out for her. With her shoulder-length blonde hair singed, feet blackened and much of her body badly burned, she was loaded onto an ambulance stretcher as she screamed, Ms. Baker recalled. The entire street was filled with first responders.

“There was a lot of confusion,” Ms. Baker said. “It was sad. It really was.”

First Published July 30, 2014 6:08 AM


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