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1 person dead after house explosion in western New York

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Posted at 1:37 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 15:37:23-04

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. — Officials in Lackawanna, New York, say one person is dead after a house exploded Tuesday morning.

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Previous photo of the neighborhood on the left via Google Earth. Photo of the scene on the right via Jessica Manuszewski.

Lackawanna fire officials say crews responded to 91 Bedford Avenue around 7:20 a.m. to report a house explosion.

Upon arrival, firefighters found the home was destroyed and a large debris field with a fire burning from the home’s foundation.

Officials say 92-year-old Irene Sanok was pronounced dead at the scene by the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office.

It is not believed any other people were inside the home, and no other injuries have been reported at this time.

Seven other homes were damaged in the area, and Lackawanna Code Enforcement Officers are evaluating.

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Photo of house explosion taken by Bedford Avenue neighbor.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation by the City of Lackawanna Fire and Police Departments, the Erie County Sheriffs Office, and National Fuel. It is expected to take several days.

Neighbor Michael Salamone is a volunteer firefighter for Reserve Hose but was not part of the official response; he spoke to 7 Eyewitness News about what he saw.

"A war zone, I've never been in a war zone, but it looked like a war zone, debris all over, we had debris in our backyards, like another side of the house, there's debris stuck in windshields," said Salamone.

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Photo of the house explosion taken by a Bedford Avenue neighbor.

According to Salamone, he opened his blinds, and that's when the flash/explosion went; he said it blinded him for a few minutes. He then saw a huge fireball and flames in the middle where the basement would be.

"This is sad. It's going to hit later because we're a tight-knit community," said Salamone.

Katie Morse with WKBW first reported this story.