Rowhouse explosion roundup: Did a cigarette spark the blast?

The investigation is continuing into the gas explosion that leveled three rowhouses on the 400 block of Daly Street, but at least one official has said that a lit cigarette caused the boom.

Pic from Newsworks
Pic from Newsworks

Councilman Mark Squilla said firefighters at the scene told him that a man working on the house tried to light the water heater in the basement, couldn’t make it work, went outside, came back in and lit a cigarette.

Mayor Nutter, however, dismissed that as “pure speculation” (careful, autoplay video on that link).

Property Philly reports that the contractors who owned the house were a new company that previously “made every mistake in the book.” But with this house, they were “going to do it right.”

The Inquirer says the house had recently passed several inspections and that PGW officials say there was no “gas leak,” which lines up with the idea of the worker trying to light the pilot on the water heater. has a good slideshow of pictures of the scene and of the rescue center where dozens of neighbors were sent after being evacuated.