Investigation Continues Into Home Explosion

By Leigh Dana

January 27, 2011 Updated Jan 27, 2011 at 7:13 PM EDT

Horseheads, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Investigators continue working to determine a cause of a house explosion in Horseheads Wednesday that killed a baby and seriously injured 2 others.

It could be days before neighbors can return to their homes.

Crews sifted through debris and what's left of the home on Joseph Street in Horseheads looking for any lead as to what caused a deadly home explosion.

Only a wall of bricks remains standing.

Julie Bernard was one of many neighbors passing by to check out the scene. She said the accident, "Is just terrible."

On Wednesday morning, 198 Joseph Street burst into flames.

Three people were home at the time; Marvin Hollister, his granddaughter, Samantha Stratton,17, and her 15-month-old son, Benjamin.

Chemung County Undersheriff Bill Schrom said,"The older gentleman was able to get out first because he was closest to the back door. And the mother, subsequently was able to get out that door as well. She was unable to find the child after the explosion."

Andrew Mock went to school with Stratton. This is not the first home explosion tragedy he's dealt with. He said, "The first time was at my friends the Petersons'. His house blew up over on Fox Street. I still can't go past that road."

Neighboring streets still remain closed to any outside traffic. Although neighbors have been able to return to their homes.

Joseph Street still remains a secure location. Neighbors in about five homes are being asked to find a temporary place to stay in the meantime.

The Red Cross is assisting families to seek shelter at a local motel.

They were allowed back into their homes briefly, taking with them anything they can carry.

Electricity and gas on Joseph Street is expected to remain off for several days.

The Chemung Sheriff's Office says it could be weeks before a cause is determined.

Hollister and Stratton are still recovering at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.

The Undersheriff says there is no reason to believe there is anything that links the 2005 house explosion on Fox Street to what happened on Joseph Street.

NYSEG has released a statement on the incident:

"The people of NYSEG join the neighborhood and community in mourning the tragic death of Ben Reed.

And our thoughts and prayers are with all of the people who were affected by this incident.

At this time, we don't know what caused the incident.

We are committed to continuing to work with all appropriate authorities in the investigation of this incident."