The explosion that leveled a Brentwood home just before noon on Tuesday was caused by propane tanks outside the house, but the source of the ignition is still under investigation, Suffolk County police said Wednesday.
One day after the explosion, which rocked the neighborhood and damaged nearby homes on Prospect Drive, police were back at the scene and beginning to piece together what led to the deadly explosion that razed the entire house.
Authorities said Tuesday that the explosion “could be gas related.” A National Grid spokeswoman said there’s no natural gas in the area. But police did say there were at least two 200-pound propane tanks outside the house.
The blast is being blamed for the death of an 18-month old child and injuries to 17 others, including the parents of the child, and first responders who rushed to the scene to save those trapped in the rubble.
Rah-quan Palmer was identified by police as the toddler who died in the blast. His mother Christina Morgan, 23, and his father, Rashamel Palmer, 28, were also injured. Two other residents—Calvin Harris, 23, and Irving Justiniano, 63—were also hurt in the explosion.
Michael Ray, 48, a plumber with Central Islip-based Your Town Cesspool Plumbing & Heating, and Patricia Salegna-Maqueda, 46, a real estate agent with State Farm Insurance, were examining water damage inside the house when it exploded. Both were seriously injured, police said.
Patricia Arnoth, 47, and her son Michael Arnoth, 24, of 14 Prospect Drive were also hurt when the house adjacent to them exploded. Both were treated at a local hospital and released.
Authorities said seven Suffolk County police officers and two firefighters were injured, but all were treated and released. Some suffered from smoke inhalation.
On Tuesday, Suffolk County Police Deputy Chief John Meehan called the explosion “extremely destructive and powerful,” damaging several surrounding homes, two of which were condemned as a result of the blast.
The first call came into police at 11:55 a.m. Police said when first responders arrived they found seven people, including the 18-month old, trapped underneath debris.
The child was “found fairly early” and rushed to the hospital, where he died shortly later, Meehan said.
“We’ll be at this for quite some time,” Det. Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick, commanding officer of the Homicide Squad told reporters Tuesday.
David Grant, 56, a neighbor doing yard work said he heard the explosion and rushed to the house to assist cops and firefighters.
“It just blew and dropped everything to the ground,” he said of the explosion.
Frank Catalano, a contractor who had been repairing water damage at the house, said he was scheduled to have a meeting at the house Tuesday afternoon. “We were just lucky we weren’t there,” he said.
At least 10 fire departments responded to the explosion. Dozens of firefighters and cops were seen sorting through the wreckage.
This is the second time in two years that a house exploded in Brentwood. Last year, a gas leak caused a vacant house to explode. No one was seriously injured, but 21 people were hospitalized.