Elmira/Corning Regional Airport

Neighbors Pull Out Victims In Corning House Explosion

Corning Home Explosion

Corning (WENY) -- A house exploded on Wilson Street in Corning Friday and literally shook the neighborhood. There was nothing left of the house except the foundation, and miraculously,  two people were pulled out of the rubble alive by neighbors.

One of those neighbors is Dave Dann. He came home on lunch break today and ended up being a hero. He lives down the street from the explosion, and when he saw people running away shouting, "Call 911," he immediately ran to the scene, and joined forces with another neighbor.

"We were hollering, 'Is anybody in there? Is there anybody in there?' " said Dann. "Then we heard them hollering, 'Help! Help us!' Then we got them. There were three fires started, and we got them out. They were badly burned, but they were alive."

The neighbors found the two victims -- an elderly man in his 80s and his adult grandson-- trapped under tons of debris, screaming in pain.

"We moved a lot of the debris out of the way, and then I grabbed their arm and pulled them out," said Dann. By that time, the fire department showed up, and I handed them off."

The victims were able to walk out, but were severely burned on the face and arms and immediately flown to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse.

The explosion was so powerful it not only wiped out the house completely, but it literally shook Corning.

"I was sitting in my living room, and bang, my house shook," said Charles Payne, who lives a few streets over. "I thought someone had slammed the door downstairs."

People working miles away also felt the explosion.

"I was sitting in a meeting with just one other person, and all of a sudden, there was a boom, and we felt the building shake," said John Wagner, who works at Corning Inc. 

More than 100 police, fire and emergency responders were at the scene and said the explosion blew out neighboring windows and doors and even made one house uninhabitable.

"We have searched the neighborhood, searched every house to make sure there isn't any gas emergencies or any other serious damage," said Corning Fire Chief John Tighe. "There is serious damage to a couple of the neighbors' houses. One of them has been condemned already."

"I'm just glad they're alive," Dann said, reflecting on the day. "That's all that matters. That's all that matters."

Responders on scene today had to wait to dig around until they got the OK from the Public Service Commission.  Fire officials say the earliest they may know of a cause could be tomorrow morning.