Casey Clontz Wiki – Casey Clontz Biography
A ‘loving’ father and son died in an explosion in Pittsburgh that destroyed three homes while visiting their neighbors. Casey Clontz, 38, and his son Keegan, 12, lived just four houses away from the property that exploded Saturday in Plum at 10:22 a.m. Authorities confirmed that five people, including a child, were killed in the blast and two neighboring properties were destroyed.
Terrifying footage showed a house on Rustic Ridge Road exploding, causing other properties to catch fire. The cause of the explosion is currently unclear, but the house was located on top of an abandoned mine. A GoFundMe has been set up for the Oravitz family, who lived on the property that was destroyed in the blast, though it is unclear if any of them are among the dead.
Paying tribute to the father and son, the family said Casey was a “loving father, husband and brother”, adding that Kegan was a “devoted son, friend and big brother”. Casey leaves behind his wife Jen and his daughter Addie, 10, with the family adding: “Their smiles and laughter from her filled the hearts of her family and friends with a joy that can never be replaced.”
Family members did not say why the father and son were on the Oratvitz property, but explained that it was not uncommon for them to stop by because they were “very friendly” with the neighbors.Public records show that Paul Oravitz, 56, his wife Heather, 51, and his two children, Taylor and Cole, lived on the property.
Official identification of the dead is expected to take some time, as it will involve the use of dental records and DNA for formal identification. Three people were rescued from the blast, two have been released from the hospital and one remains in critical condition. Peoples Gas President Michael Huwar said crews immediately began checking the area for leaks, including airborne and underground checks and odor checks.
Early reports show the system was working as designed, raising questions about what caused the house to explode, with some asking whether the mine could be the cause. After the explosion, utilities were shut off due to safety concerns, but power was restored to the entire area except for the immediate vicinity of the explosion.
The Allegheny County Fire Marshal’s Office is leading the investigation into the cause and origin of the fire and explosion and the process is expected to take some time. Fifty-seven firefighters were treated at the scene for minor problems after a struggle by the emergency services to reach the scene. A fire has been burning at the Renton Mine for decades, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has pledged to spend $55 million to clean up abandoned mines across the state.
It is unclear if or when the underground fire was extinguished, and public documents show it was “under construction” in October 2020. It comes after a home on Hialeah Drive, which is just four miles from the latest explosion, blew up last year, sending a family of five to the hospital. The couple who lived on the property, as well as their three children, survived the blast, and the cause of the blast has yet to be revealed.
Matt Brown, chief of the Allegheny County Department of Emergency Services, said the investigation has been lengthy due to forensic testing of natural gas lines and appliances and follow-up interviews, requiring extensive planning and coordination. In 2008, less than half a mile away, another house was blown up on Mardi Gras Drive, with another two destroyed and 11 others damaged.
Richard Leith, 64, was killed in the blast and his granddaughter Gianna, who was four at the time, suffered a broken leg. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the explosion in 2008 was caused after a 2-inch gas pipeline was struck years earlier, in 2003. Investigators determined that it ultimately failed after it corroded. There was another explosion in 1996 where natural gas was determined to be the cause.
Holiday Park Fire Chief James Sims said he has responded to six house explosions in Plum in his decades as a firefighter, telling the Daily Item the latest is “the worst I’ve ever seen”. A third family was left homeless after the explosion, and neighboring properties were completely destroyed by fire after the explosion. Harrison Smith, 35, his wife Kelly, 36, and his son Levi, 3, lost their entire home in the blast.
Friends have since created a GoFundMe for the couple, raising $30,800 of a goal of $50,000 so far. City Manager Mike Thomas, 57, owned the third property that caught fire, according to Plum Mayor Harry Schlegel. Mayor Schlegel confirmed that Thomas’s wife, Jacqueline, 48, and her daughter were taken to hospital after the explosion.
He added that a man who lives in a neighboring house was airlifted to UPMC Mercy for treatment in the hospital’s burn unit. Authorities have yet to confirm the cause of the blast as of 10:30 a.m. Saturday, adding that the investigation into the blast could take years. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recommends that people living above the mine on Rustic Ridge Road obtain insurance for their properties due to risks associated with underground structures.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said, “This is a sad, sad day and a sad time, not just for the people of Plum, but for all the people in the community and in this region.” Images of the explosion circulating online show a house in Plum, a Pittsburgh suburb, in what appears to be a fairly quiet neighborhood, exploding and sending debris into the air.
The housing development sits on top of an abandoned mine near shallow oil and gas wells, some of which are still actively producing. Neighbor Rafael Kolankowski told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “It’s just tragic, I mean, it looks like a war zone, it looks like a bomb hit our neighborhood, and it’s just unfortunate.” Other neighbors revealed that they felt “lucky to be alive” as authorities warned that residents should stay away from the area until it is deemed safe.
Rescuers reported people trapped under the rubble, county spokeswoman Amie Downs said. Crews from at least 18 fire departments worked to put out the flames with the help of water tankers from Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office is expected to provide additional information on the deceased victims.
Michael Huwar, president of Peoples Gas, said the company’s checks for airborne and underground gas leaks, as well as constant pressure verified at regulating stations, indicated that “our system was working as designed.” . Gas and electric service was shut off as a precaution, and authorities said Sunday there was a plan to begin restoring service and power was expected to return to all but a few residences, authorities said. .
Gov. Josh Shapiro said he and the first lady were “praying for the families” affected, promising that “as they rebuild, we’ll have them covered.” Emergency services called Rustic Ridge Drive and Brookside Drive around 10:23 a.m. Saturday morning and discovered people trapped under rubble while two others were engulfed in flames, police said. First responders arriving on scene were met with a massive inferno that had created a large plume of thick black smoke at the scene.
Several homes were leveled in the incident with aerial images showing at least three vacant lots where the homes once stood and multiple properties with broken windows and exterior damage. Allegheny and Westmoreland counties sent water tankers to the scene and 18 different fire departments coordinated to put out the flames and conduct rescue operations.Read More…..