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Gas blast victims' families file wrongful death lawsuit

For the families of Pennsylvanian accident victims, moving on with their lives can feel impossible. One Pennsylvania man knows exactly how that feels. In February 2011, a natural gas explosion in Allentown killed five people and destroyed multiple homes in his neighborhood. The man was at work at the time of the accident. The man's 16-year-old daughter, 4-month-old grandson and 69-year-old mother were all killed in the tragedy. The couple of next door to the man also lost their lives. Five families lost their homes, including the man.

The man, along with the son of the couple, filed wrongful death lawsuits against UGI, the major gas supplier in the area. UGI found that the explosion was caused by an 83-year-old cast-iron pipe. The pipe cracked and sent gas into the Halls' home, where a spark ignited the gas. The spark was most likely caused by a light switch or an appliance.

The couple's son settled his lawsuit for an unknown amount. The man has settled on behalf of his grandson, but the lawsuits for his daughter and mother are still active. The settlement helps pay for meals and clothing for the man and his surviving family members.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission demanded that UGI replace all of the cast-iron pipes in the area by 2027. UGI has started a $1.2 billion replacement program and plans to meet the deadline.

However, it is now five years later and nothing is like it used to be. The neighborhood and the families who lived there are forever changed as a result of the explosion. Most of the families have relocated to different areas and are trying their best to forget the tragic events of that day. The money received from UGI will help them move on financially, but nothing will erase the emotional and physical pain suffered.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Daily struggle 5 years after gas blast killed his family," Manuel Gamiz Jr., Feb. 13, 2016

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