Victim In Taylor Home Explosion Is Badly Burned, Flown To Center Near Allentown

August 31, 2018

TAYLOR — A Taylor man found trapped beneath the rubble of his home – leveled by an apparent gas explosion Thursday night could reportedly be heard as far as a mile away — was badly burned across most of his body and was rushed by helicopter to a specialized treatment center near Allentown, authorities said this morning.

Police said the victim is Brian Ott, 58, who lived at 308 Union St., which, until Thursday night, had been a modest and unassuming two story home on a busy borough street.

Police Chief Stephen Derenick said Ott is in critical condition.

In this morning’s driving rain, the home was a jumbled pile of broken wood and ruined furniture, covered in many places by beige siding and brown roof shingles.

The home’s resident had been rescued from underneath a pile of rubble now topped with a mattress after a two hour effort to dig him up.

“How he survived is an absolute miracle,” Taylor Police Chief Stephen Derenick said.

Meanwhile, another reported gas leak has the 100 block of Union Street closed down.

UGI detected high levels there and closed it down, Borough Manager Dan Zeleniak said.

As of now, Derenick does not believe that the two incidents are related.

Emergency crews rushed to 308 Union St. at about 8:40 p.m. last night after the explosion.

The shockwave shattered windows from nearby homes and caused minor injuries, Derenick said.

Ott has a dog, whose name was not known, but who was reportedly seen nearby the scene after the explosion, Derenick said.

The blast was like nothing Alice DeCarlo, a neighbor across the street from Ott, had ever heard.

She had been sitting in her chair watching television when the concussive blast shattered her living room window. Her first thought was that a tractor-trailer had plowed into her home.

“I don’t mind telling you I jumped out of my chair,” DeCarlo said.

Authorities evacuated four blocks around the blast last night, the chief said. People immediately next to the explosion, like DeCarlo, started to return this morning.

A team of 10 American Red Cross disaster workers assisted more than 100 first responders for several hours last night.

They remained on scene this morning. UGI remains here too.

The cause is still under investigation by the Taylor police department and the state police fire marshals.

The investigators are expected to return some time this afternoon, the chief said.

Contact the writer: jkohut@timesshamrock.com, 570-348-9144; @jkohutTT on Twitter

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