Saratoga County

Cause of explosion that killed five still under investigation

Investigators are still looking for answers in an explosion Wednesday that destroyed a home on Route

The rented two-story home at 4383 Route 29 bustled with activity shortly after noon Wednesday.

Several friends had stopped by to visit. Some of the seven people who lived there were milling about outside and some were getting ready to go fishing or swimming, according to neighbors.

Then in an instant, everything changed. There was a loud bang and the power flickered out. Within seconds, the sparsely populated bucolic stretch of highway had been transformed into an unspeakable disaster zone.

By Thursday, five of the 11 people at the rented residence had died from the blast, including a small child and three teenagers. State Police and Washington County fire investigators continued to pour over the ruins of the home in search of clues that can help them determine what touched off such a lethal and tragic explosion.

The fatal disaster was among two that rocked Washington County on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, an unrelated house fire killed a family of three and spurred a multi-state search for an ex-convict wanted for questioning.

Among the dead in the Salem blast are Niyah Lynn Durham, the 2-month-old daughter of 20-year-old Darrell Durham and 21-year-old Alicia Berg, both of whom were seriously injured in the blast; Darrell Durham remains at the Westchester Medical Center, while Berg continues to be treated at the Albany Medical Center.

Clarissa Lyn Porlier, 19, who was among the four who stopped by the residence also died of her injuries. Robert Sanford, 16, Lawrence Berg Jr., 19, and Tammy Palmer, all of whom lived at the home, were among the casualties first identified by police.

Survivors include 17-year-old Brianna Berg, who was friends with Smith from across the street. Smith said Berg, who suffered bad cuts and is walking with crutches, went to stay with her father in Greenwhich.

Daniel Wilcox, 43, and Chelsey Wilcox, 15, who were both were visiting the home, survived the explosion. Steven McComsey, 32, who’s name was among three written on the mailbox out front, also lived through the blast, according to state police.

State police Lt. John Agresta said four of the survivors remain hospitalized. He said investigators haven’t been able to talk with many of the people who were inside when the blast occurred.

Agresta declined to discuss the progress of the investigation or what might have lead to the violent blast. He also wouldn’t speculate on buzz around the neighborhood alluding to a pair of propane tanks as the cause or that some of the residents complained of smelling gas before the blast.

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply