A UGI Utilities worker who was killed in an explosion Sunday at a Manor Township home has been identified.
Richard A. Bouder, 54, of Drexel Avenue, East Lampeter Township, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni.
Bouder was working outside the home with two other UGI workers and a Lancaster Area Sewer Authority employee when it exploded around 12:30 p.m. The other workers were injured and remained hospitalized Monday. All are expected to recover.
Two federal agencies, as well as the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission are now investigating the explosion.
The National Transportation Safety Board arrived around 3 p.m. Monday to begin their investigation. They are an independent federal agency charged by Congress with investigating significant accidents in various modes of transportation, including pipelines.
Also investigating is the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, they enforce regulations of the nation's 2.6-million-mile pipeline system.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Monday issued a statement saying, "We are committed to identifying the cause of this incident in order to prevent future tragedies."
UGI had been investigating reports of a gas leak when the explosion occurred.
A home at 206 Springdale Lane was destroyed in the blast, and four neighboring houses have been condemned, according to officials. Residents were allowed back in the homes Monday morning to retrieve pets.
Several other homes in the block sustained lesser damage and remained inhabitable. A total damage estimate was not available Monday.
UGI spokesman Joseph Swope said in the 24 years he's worked with the company, he can't recall another fatal UGI incident in Lancaster County.
As of Monday night, here's what we know and don't know about the incident:
1. How are the other injured workers doing?
The other three men injured in the explosion are expected to survive.
Denny Hoffert, an employee of Lancaster Area Sewer Authority, is in stable condition, according to Mike Kyle, executive director of LASA.
His injuries are mostly lacerations from debris, Kyle said.
Hoffert is an inspector for the authority, Kyle said. Inspectors are called to mark the location of sewer lines when another utility group is going to excavate, he said.
LASA has a sewer line in the area but didn't have any ongoing projects, Kyle said.
The two other injured workers are UGI employees and have not been named.
One man was in stable condition following surgery. The second man is also in stable condition, according to Blue Rock Fire Rescue Commissioner Duane Hagelgans.
2. Why is the NTSB investigating?
UGI is obligated to report incidents to state and federal emergency response regulators, according to Swope. NTSB evaluates the report and decides whether to investigate, he said.
"Because UGI's employee was the victim, you don't want UGI to do the investigation themselves," Hagelgans said.
NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss confirmed two investigators were sent to the scene and said there have been no conclusions yet.
NTSB has priority in pipeline accidents over all other federal investigations, Weiss said in an email Monday.
"In the case of natural gas pipelines, in the simplest terms, we have jurisdiction over events that happen before the meter; events that happen after the meter and within a structure are generally investigated by other agencies," Weiss said.
The NTSB is likely involved because the explosion involved the transportation of gas underground and because one person died, according to Randy Gockley, Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency director.
3. Has a cause of the explosion been determined yet?
Investigators are working to piece everything together, Hagelgans said.
"They are trying to figure out exactly the cause, how it happened, what, if anything, is a root cause of this situation to figure out why it happened and to make sure nothing like this happens again," he said.
Swope said he expects the NTSB to be on the scene for several days to survey the area and excavate pipes.
He said it could be several months before the release of a conclusion.
The explosion happened while workers were investigating a reported gas leak. A UGI crew responded to the area after a passerby detected an odor of gas, Hagelgans said Sunday.
4. What is the status of utilities in the neighborhood?
Jeannine Hughes stood in a field of debris, looking for some sign of her home or any of her family’s belongings after a devastating explosion …
Gas service is still out for 17 homes in the area, Swope said. UGI is “working today to evaluate the best option to restore service” to the homes, he said Monday.
He said UGI is testing the lines in front of the homes unaffected by the incident before restoring service.
Electric and water services have been restored to all of the homes except for the four that are condemned, Hagelgans said.
In a statement Sunday, UGI said it was working through its employee assistance program to provide grief counseling to employees and their family members.
According to county property records, the home that was destroyed was built in 1998 and reassessed this year at $387,900. It had four bedrooms and 3,000 square feet of living space.
The American Red Cross sent two disaster action teams to the neighborhood Sunday, according to spokeswoman Kim Maiolo. Residents declined assistance from the Red Cross at the time.
"If anyone needs anything, we are available," she said.
5. What's happening at the site?
Nothing had been cleaned up Monday morning as investigators walked slowly through the scene, talking on cellphones and pointing to different parts of the debris field around the house.
The four-way-flashers continued to blink on the UGI truck that had parked closest to the house. Its passenger door and back gate were both still open.
The two other UGI trucks and and one from LASA also remained parked where they were when the house exploded.
NTSB investigators at scene this morning, UGI personnel standing by. Some neighbors retrieved pets. pic.twitter.com/JY9Q7VLKRk— Chad Umble (@ChadUmbleLNP) July 3, 2017
Small groups of UGI workers stood together talking near their trucks or under trees. Others worked inside an air-conditioned Lancaster County Emergency Communications trailer parked close to the scene.
Some neighbors and residents arrived during the mid-morning, recounting what had happened the day before while other curious neighbors showed up and took some photos.
A “Road Closed” sign was set up a block away, but vehicles were allowed right up to the condemned houses. Private cars lined the road.
By late afternoon, restoration firms had arrived and some clean-up was underway.
Staff writers Chad Umble and Jennifer Todd contributed to this report.