Blast In Work Zone Shatters Window, Hurls Debris

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TAYLOR -- Work on a gas line in Lackawanna County was stopped by an explosion of compressed air, according to work crews on the scene.

People in Taylor heard some sort of explosion Wednesday and when they went outside they saw a hole in the road, along with property and cars covered with dirt and rocks

The explosion happened just before 8 a.m. while a contractor was working on a new gas line on Keyser Avenue in Taylor.  The explosion those neighbors heard is something that contractors prepare for but it rarely happens.

Living on a busy road that's long been under construction, the sound of trucks feels like background noise to Helen Farrell and her neighbors on Keyser Avenue in Taylor.

But this time it felt different, so Farrell walked out to her car and found her window smashed and her car covered with dirt.

"I knew it couldn't have been an earthquake, but I thought it was a tractor-trailer or a big vehicle truck passing by. But it definitely woke me up out of bed."

The loud bang was an explosion caused by compressed air. It spewed pounds of dirt, rocks, and debris over a 50-yard radius. The parking lot of the Pine Hills Country Club was covered in dirt but, Farrell's property got the brunt of the damage.

"There were large rocks and boulders, and there was a big chunk of what looked like the bottom of a telephone pole in between the two cars."

Crews were out cleaning a new gas line that's not being used yet. The contractor says they clean it like you would clean a clogged drain. When the pressure became too much, the gas line burst creating a hole in the road.

An official from PennDOT says the workers always close the road when they're cleaning the new gas line, just in case something like this happens. When the explosion happened there were only workers outside and none of them was hurt.

"If there would have been any cars around here when this happened, it could've been much worse, so it's very important for people to understand, there's a reason why we close Keyser down at certain times during this work," said PennDOT spokesperson James May.

The workers spent much of the afternoon picking up after the explosion for the neighbors on Keyser Avenue. They say their worry is really just beginning since the construction project on their road is set to continue for at least a couple more years.

"It's not going to end soon from the way I understand it. It's going to be going on for another year and a half. It's a little scary to look at my neighbor's car there," said Jim Wallace.

As for Helen Farrell's two damaged cars, she says the contractor's insurance should handle it.