Baby Killed, 14 Injured in L.I. House Explosion

The cause of the explosion is under investigation

By Tracie Strahan and Greg Cergol
|  Wednesday, Aug 15, 2012  |  Updated 1:04 AM EDT
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Crews continue to pore over the wreckage left behind after a blast rocked a Long Island neighborhood. Ida Siegal has more.

NBC 4 New York

Crews continue to pore over the wreckage left behind after a blast rocked a Long Island neighborhood. Ida Siegal has more.

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Neighbors Homeless After L.I. Home Explosion

Residents in Brentwood are shaken by the house explosion that killed a baby and injured 14 others -- and some are left homeless. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

Baby Killed, 14 Injured in L.I. House Explosion

An 18-month-old baby has died and 14 people were hospitalized after a house exploded on Long Island Tuesday, officials said. News 4's Greg Cergol reports.
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An 18-month-old baby died and 14 people were hospitalized after a house exploded on Long Island Tuesday, officials said.

Police and firefighters sifted through the rubble of the two-story home on Prospect Drive in Brentwood after the explosion razed the structure shortly before noon.

Seven people were inside the house when it blew up -- including the toddler, identified as Rah-Quan Palmer, and his family -- and a real estate agent doing work at the time. 

Eight other people outside the house were also injured, including five police officers, two firefighters and a next-door neighbor. Their injuries were minor. 

The victims were taken to three area hospitals. The baby boy died at Southside hospital, authorities said. Three of the adults who were in the home were seriously injured.

"One of them came out, and his clothes were all ripped, his face was all bloody," said neighbor Anthony Acevedo. "The mother of the baby that came out, she was bloody and crying, and she kept screaming, 'My baby's in there, my baby's in there.'"

Another neighbor, who said he often waved to the family, saw rescuers pull the baby from the rubble, but the baby wasn't moving. 

"That's the sad part, and that image just kills me," said Carlos Bescosne. "I saw the fireman run with the baby." 

Dave Grant heard the explosion from about seven blocks away and raced to the scene. He heard one officer yelling "We need help!'' and said he helped lift the collapsed roof to rescue a man.

Another woman, Dawn Paris, said the explosion shook her house and she lives a mile away.

Frank Catalano, a worker with AMS Restoration and Environmental Services said that a pipe had burst in the house last week, causing a flood.

"There were issues in the house," Catalano said. "The condition wasn't the greatest."

The house had been illegally converted into a rooming house with at least eight rooms, which were being rented for $300 a month, said Inez Birbiglia, a spokeswoman for the Town of Islip. The owner of the house was issued 10 summonses for code violations in September 2011 and was given until this October to bring the house into compliance.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation. Authorities say two 200-pound propane tanks were discovered in the debris and are investigating if the propane may have contributed to the explosion.

National Grid spokeswoman Wendy Ladd says it appears natural gas was not used in that house or on the entire block. 

Officials have condemned the houses on both sides of the explosion, which were badly damaged. Red Cross is assisting 19 people find temporary shelter until residents are allowed into homes that were intact but may have been compromised. 

Last April, another home in Brentwood exploded. The home was vacant at the time and no one was injured, though 21 people from neighboring homes were taken to the hospital for evaluation.

A gas leak was believed to have caused that explosion.

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