Plum Borough House Explosion | Rebuild with Ethen Ostroff Law

Five people were killed in a tragic Plum Borough house explosion on the morning of August 12, 2023. Shockwaves from the explosion were felt throughout the neighborhood. A house blew up and two other homes were engulfed in flames. According to an Allegheny County press release, the home explosion was caused by “hot water tank issues.”

House fires and explosions like this can devastate properties, traumatize people, and destroy families’ futures. They frequently result in death, permanent injury, expensive medical treatment, and long-term rehabilitation. On top of that, house fires and explosions are complicated legal cases that place difficult decisions and responsibilities on victims and their families. In some cases, these house fires or explosions could have been avoided.

When negligence or wrongful acts are to blame, Ethen Ostroff Law and its partner firms can assist victims in seeking accountability. Effective legal counsel is critical in determining whether your case may result in financial compensation for property damages, injuries, and lost productivity.

Plum Borough House Explosion Left Five Dead

A tragic house explosion occurred at 10:30 a.m. (ET) on Saturday morning, August 12, 2023, at 141 Rustic Ridge Drive in Plum Borough, near Pittsburgh, PA. Five people were killed and three others wounded; two of whom were in stable condition and one critically. The Plum house explosion destroyed three structures and severely damaged about a dozen others nearby. The victims have been identified as Heather Oravitz, 51; Kevin Sebunia, 55; Michael Thomas, 57; and father and son, Casey Clontz, 38, and Keegan Clontz, 12.

The explosion was responded to by water tankers from Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, 18 different fire departments, and Allegheny County’s Emergency Management and Fire Marshals. All nearby utilities were turned off for safety, but power was restored by Sunday afternoon.

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According to the Allegheny County Fire Marshal’s Office, the home that exploded had hot water tank issues. However, the fire marshal has not concluded this was the cause of the Plum Borough house explosion. They are looking into this information along with any other possibilities that may explain what occurred.

What is the prevalence of house fires and explosions in the United States?

According to the United States Fire Administration, the 2021 national estimates for residential building fires and losses show that from 2012 to 2021 there were 353,500 fires, 2,840 deaths, 11,400 injuries, and $8,855,900,000 in loss. The overall trends for residential building fires and losses for the 10-year period show a 5% decrease in fires, an 8% increase in deaths, a 7% decrease in injuries, and an 11% increase in dollar loss.

Plum Borough House Explosion

What are the types of house fires and explosions and their causes?

Here are the different types of house fires and explosions, along with their common causes:

  • Kitchen fires. They are usually caused by overheating cooking oil, grease, or food left unattended on the stove.
  • Electrical fires. They result from faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, or malfunctioning electrical devices.
  • Heating equipment fires. They happen when portable heaters, furnaces and fireplaces are placed too close to flammable objects.
  • Smoking-related fires. They start from unattended cigarettes, cigars or pipes.
  • Candle fires. They ignite due to open flames from candles coming into contact with flammable materials.
  • Flammable liquid fires. These fires result from the improper storage or handling of flammable liquids like gasoline, kerosene or cleaning agents.
  • Explosions. Can occur due to gas leaks, faulty appliances or combustible materials.
  • Arson-related fires. Someone intentionally set fires.
  • Children and playing with fire. They are accidental fires caused by children playing with matches, lighters, or flammable materials.
  • Appliance malfunctions. They can occur due to manufacturing defects or a lack of maintenance on household appliances.

Home Fire Prevention and Safety Tips

Home fires can quickly get out of hand. But a great deal of these fires can be prevented. By taking the following basic precautions, you could stop a disaster before it starts:

  • Never leave your kitchen unattended while cooking. You should always stay near the cooking area, use timers and keep flammable materials away from heat sources.
  • Check your heating sources. Keep a safe distance between heating devices and objects, follow manufacturer’s instructions and use proper ventilation.
  • Store flammable products in well-ventilated areas away from heat sources, use proper containers, and follow safety guidelines.
  • Keep your wires in good condition. Avoid overloading outlets, use quality electrical appliances, and get regular inspections to identify potential hazards.
  • Smoke outdoors, never leave smoking materials unattended, and properly extinguish them.
  • Have a fire extinguisher and keep a blanket nearby.
  • Install smoke alarms and sprinkler systems in your house.
  • Keep your candles away from flammable objects, don’t leave them unattended, and consider using flameless alternatives.
  • Regularly inspect gas lines, appliances, and connections.
  • Educate children about fire safety, keep matches and lighters out of reach, and supervise their activities.
  • Use electric appliances safely. Regularly maintain and service appliances, replace faulty cords or plugs and follow manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Plan your escape from fire.

What should you do if your house is on fire or explodes?

Your life and your property can be protected with fire safety knowledge and quick action. And the best way you can ensure fire safety is through prevention. However, you can follow these steps in case of house fire or explosion:

  • Extinguish the fire if possible.
  • To escape, crawl under the smoke.
  • Check doors and door knobs for heat.
  • Run to safety.
  • Call 911 for help.
  • If you’re trapped inside, cover the cracks around the door with whatever you can find.
  • If your clothes catch on fire, immediately stop, drop, and roll.

What are the impacts of house fires and explosions?

House fires and explosions can have catastrophic effects on both human life and property. Among these effects are:

  • Property damage
  • Injuries
  • Loss of life
  • Emotional trauma
  • Litigation
  • Loss of productivity
  • Health and safety issues
  • Financial losses and liabilities

What should you do after a house fire or explosion?

A house fire or explosion can put so much on your plate. Dealing with the aftermath and deciding what to do next can be difficult. Worry no more. Do the following to get started:

    • Check on your family. Make sure everyone is okay.
    • Contact your homeowners’ insurance company to start your insurance claim process.
    • If you don’t have homeowners’ insurance, look for charities or hire an attorney if the fire was not your fault.
    • Ask your insurance company to evaluate the fire damage to your home or consult a fire restoration professional.
    • Check if your house is safe.
    • Separate your damaged items from the undamaged ones.
    • Find somewhere to stay during the house restoration process.


Who is liable for damages caused by a house fire or explosion?

Determining who is responsible for fire damage is tricky. It is possible to hold several persons or organizations accountable for the losses and harm done. Those who might be held accountable include:

  • Owners of rental properties who have not adequately maintained the premises
  • The builder or repairer of a structure, or the subcontractor who provides electrical contracting services.
  • Suppliers of any faulty materials used in the house’s construction
  • Manufacturers and retailers of defective products in the structure
  • Contractors who install appliances like furnaces and water heaters, as well as retailers who supply contractors for appliance installation
  • Property managers who have not adequately managed the property
  • Arsonist
  • Gas or propane company

What lawsuits can be filed for house fire or explosion damage?

Fire and explosion damage are among the top five most expensive and common insurance claims. They can become even more expensive if a lawsuit is filed. The legal issues that may arise from a fire or explosion injury and property damage cases include defective products, negligence, and intentional acts.

What damages can you claim for house fire and explosion claims?

When you are injured or your property is damaged by a fire or explosion, you can seek compensatory damages. This can apply whether your case involves negligence, arson, or strict product liability for a defective product.

In negligence lawsuits, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a legal duty, breached that duty, and was the direct or proximate cause of injuries or property damage to recover damages. In arson cases, the crime’s elements are reviewed to determine the case’s penalty. In product liability lawsuits, a victim must show that another person or company manufactured, distributed, sold, or installed the product that caused the harm. In wrongful death cases, a surviving spouse or family member can file a wrongful death lawsuit for damages against the parties responsible for the fire.

Compensation awards differ by state because each state has its own laws governing losses compensated. Nonetheless, most states include some or all of the following if supported by evidence:

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of income and earning ability
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering 
  • Property damage
  • Emotional distress
  • Compensation for disability and disfigurement 
  • Bad faith damages
  • Punitive damages

Should you retain a personal injury lawyer for your fire or explosion claim?

Yes. A personal injury attorney can offer comprehensive information on the legal remedies that are available and their worth in a particular case and state. House fire and explosion lawsuits are unique and complex due to the possible involvement of numerous parties. Each state has different liability laws. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether you have a case, file a lawsuit on your behalf, and represent you in court if necessary.

Why should you choose Ethen Ostroff Law for your house fire or explosion lawsuit?

At Ethen Ostroff Law, we are your advocates in the face of the devastation caused by house fires or explosions like the Plum house explosion. Our comprehensive range of services ensures you have the legal guidance you need:

  • A free case evaluation of your case. Let us discuss your case, explore legal options, and clarify the attorney’s role in the process.
  • Investigate the fire or explosion incident. We delve into the details of the fire to identify who’s liable for the incident and assess the insurance resources available from the responsible party to secure compensation.
  • We work closely with you to assess the expenses and impacts of your injury.
  • Our attorneys manage the entire claims process, including submitting your claim to the at-fault party’s insurer and engaging with the claims adjuster to negotiate a settlement that aligns with fair compensation.
  • We provide guidance on your claim’s value, the potential settlement, and the pros and cons of pursuing legal action.
  • We take appropriate steps to file a lawsuit within the state’s statute of limitations.
  • Our team gathers the evidence and medical documentation needed to build a compelling case that proves liability, expenses, and impacts.
  • We attend court hearings, respond to motions, and file necessary motions to prepare for trial.
  • If your case progresses to trial, we provide dedicated representation and advocacy in court.
  • Once a settlement or court award is obtained, we assist in collecting the compensation owed to you.

Ethen Ostroff Law is not just a legal service. Your home’s protection is paramount to us. We are your partners in reclaiming your life after a house fire or explosion.

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