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Lackawanna home explosion kills elderly woman, damages other homes

The scene after a home at 91 Bedford Ave. in Lackawanna exploded Tuesday morning. Debris can be seen on the roof of a neighboring home.
Tom Dinki
The scene after a home at 91 Bedford Ave. in Lackawanna exploded Tuesday morning. Debris can be seen on the roof of a neighboring home.

A house explosion in Lackawanna Tuesday morning killed the elderly woman who lived there and damaged several other nearby homes.

The explosion occurred at approximately 7:20 a.m. at a ranch-style home on Bedford Avenue, located off Abbott Road near Lackawanna High School. The home, 91 Bedford Ave., was left completely destroyed, with fire burning in its foundation and among some of the many debris scattered throughout the street.

“We received a call for something burning in the road. There were also reports that there was loss of power,” Lackawanna Fire Chief James Fino told reporters gathered at the scene. “Upon initial arrival, we had a pretty big debris field. There was one fatality.”

The City of Lackawanna later announced that 92-year-old Irene Sanok was pronounced dead at the scene by the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office. Sanok is believed to be the only person in the home at the time of the explosion, the city said. No other injuries were reported.

However, the explosion did cause damage to seven nearby homes, fire officials said.

It blew out the front window of Jessica and Kevin Manuszewski’s upstairs apartment, located just across the street.

“We were sleeping and we just heard the explosion. It scared the hell out of us,” said Jessica Manuszewski. “I screamed out and Kevin went to go see what happened. And he's like, ‘Jess, the front window’s gone.’ So then we just grabbed our stuff and ran out.”

The Manuszewskis, two of several shocked neighbors who watched from a safe distance as crews worked the scene after being advised to leave their homes, said they saw fire shooting up out of the explosion site, as if a gas line had broken.

However, city officials said the cause is still under investigation. That inquiry, which includes the Lackawanna fire and police departments, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, and National Fuel, is expected to take several days.

The explosion also knocked out power to numerous homes on the block. National Grid had said it expected to restore power around 7 p.m.

Sanok is the owner of 91 Bedford Ave., according to Lackawanna property records. The Manuszewskis, who’ve lived at their apartment for seven years, said they had only seen her in passing, once helping her into her home on an icy day.

“Prayers for her and her family and for us and our neighbors,” Kevin Manuszewski said. “It's a horrible thing that happened.”

Tom Dinki joined WBFO in August 2019 to cover issues affecting older adults.