Scary Video of Philadelphia Gas Main Explosion

One utility worker was killed and four others injured when they were working on a gas main — and it exploded. A firefighter was also injured in the resulting blaze. This video shows almost all of the explosion itself, including the thing that always creeps me out the most about urban explosions — debris flying through the air.

It all reminded me of the time about fifteen years ago when I was walking up Market Street in downtown San Francisco and was suddenly stopped dead in my tracks by a wall of flame shooting up out of a grating — matched by kind of a giant WHOOMP sound.  I don’t remember any perceptible heat. I wasn’t injured and in fact was at no point contacted by the flames (and there was no debris).

I was maybe ten feet away, and there was one guy between me and the explosion. While I stood there stunned, the guy balled up his fists, stomped his feet and howled “Ugh!” and then walked on.

I was so shocked by the whole thing I just stood there, and about 30 seconds (after the guy was a ways down the street), a PG & E worker came running up a utility ladder looking sheepish. He glanced at me as if to say, “Sorry! My bad!”

No one was injured in the explosion I witnessed, but whenever I read about urban gas explosions, or see video of them, I think about how quick our infrastructure is to kill us. No more so than nature, maybe.

Condolences to the worker’s family and friends.

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