Ohio building explosion caused by crew cutting gas line they thought was out, NTSB says

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A crew working in the basement of an Ohio building intentionally shut off a gas line without knowing it was under pressure before a deadly explosion this week, the National Transportation Safety Board said Friday .

NTSB board member Tom Chapman said workers were in the basement cleaning pipes and other outdated infrastructure. He said workers didn’t smell any gas before they started cutting the pipe and knew there was a problem when they made the third cut.

At that point, workers pulled the fire alarm and alerted residents and bank employees to evacuate. Chapman said the explosion happened six minutes after that cut. Investigators will try to determine why the pipe was under pressure.

Firefighters work outside the building that exploded Tuesday in Youngstown, Ohio.WFMJ

Tuesday afternoon’s explosion destroyed much of the ground floor of the Realty Tower, killing a bank employee and injuring several other people.

He collapsed part of the ground floor into his basement and sent the facade across the street. Bricks, glass and other debris littered the sidewalk outside the 13-story building, which housed a Chase Bank branch at street level and apartments on the upper floors.

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