ONEIDA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Video taken from the uniform camera of an Oneida Police sergeant, obtained first by NewsChannel 9, shows the moment a ruptured gas line fueled a home on West Elm Street to explode.
The blast knocked over first responders, some ducking for cover.
Police say the utility line was severed by an SUV that crashed into the home, stolen by the 17-year-old driver.
Sergeant Mike Burgess said, “We are making sure the case we put together to prosecute this juvenile is the best it possibly can be, because it’s impacted so many people.“
In addition to the home that was obliterated, at least five neighboring homes have been condemned by the city. Structural engineers will decide if repairs can be made.
While police work to charge the teenager, the neighborhood wants National Grid to answer for their concerns.
The gas leak started after the crash just after 3:00am, but the home didn’t explode until three hours later.
Sgt. Burgess said, “A National Grid employee arrived and was using a meter to attempt to locate a turn-off. However, she could not find one. She had to request a separate crew come out and close off the gas, however they were coming from the City of Utica.”
It was too late, Oneida Fire Chief Scott Jones said.
“The response time definitely does concern me,” he added.
A National Grid spokesperson initially responded to NewsChannel 9: “National Grid is cooperating with local fire and police officials as they investigate the events surrounding Saturday’s incident in Oneida. We have no further comment at this time.”
After NewsChannel 9’s reporting on the concern first aired, the spokesperson updated the statement.
The current statement reads:
“National Grid is working with local fire and police officials as they investigate the events surrounding the alleged criminal acts that involved the theft of an automobile, and related accident that resulted in the destruction and damage homes on Elm Street in Oneida, NY. Preliminary assessments indicate the vehicle directly struck National Grid facilities with such severe force that it severed the gas service, requiring the Company personnel who were on scene to call in additional crews and equipment to stop the flow of gas caused by the extraordinary vehicle impact.”