© 2022 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Lackawanna authorities, EC investigators blame basement gas leak for deadly house explosion

Lackawanna home explosion
Tom Dinki
The scene after a home at 91 Bedford Ave. in Lackawanna exploded July 20. Debris can be seen on the roof of a neighboring home. The occupant of the home was killed in the blast.

An investigation led by the Erie County Sheriff's Department into a house explosion in Lackawanna last month has determined that the blast was traced to a natural gas leak in the basement.

The explosion at 91 Bedford Avenue killed the home's lone occupant, 92 year old Irene Sanok. The explosion also resulted in damage to neighboring houses, forcing the emergency demolition of 87 Bedford, and a still continuing structural inspection at 97 Bedford.

However, according to a statement released by Lackawanna Mayor Annette Iafallo on Monday, "what ignited the explosion is undetermined."

National Fuel, in the earliest days of the investigation, stated they had found no evidence of leaks from their lines serving the house. They renewed that position Monday.

"National Fuel has cooperated with Lackawanna Fire and Police representatives and fire investigators from the Erie County Sheriff’s Office," the company said in a written statement. "Testing of the main and service lines on Bedford Avenue as well as soil and atmospheric evaluation showed nothing unusual and no evidence of system malfunction or leaking natural gas. This testing was done under the observation of the New York State Department of Public Service. National Fuel is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the main lines and the service lines up to the house’s meter. The house lines and connections to natural gas equipment and appliances within the home are the responsibility of each customer therefore we are unable to comment on the customer’s piping or equipment.

"National Fuel continues to express its condolences to the relatives of Irene Sanok. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time of tremendous loss."