Tragic Gas Explosion in Youngstown, Ohio: One Dead, Several Injured

by | May 30, 2024 | Catastrophic Injury, Explosion, Gas Leak Injuries, Natural Gas Explosions, Workplace Explosion

A devastating natural gas explosion in downtown Youngstown, Ohio on Tuesday afternoon claimed the life of a 27-year-old man and injured at least seven others, one critically. The blast occurred just before 3 p.m. at the Realty Building on East Federal Street, housing a Chase Bank branch and residential apartments on the upper floors. This tragic incident has left the Youngstown community in mourning as investigations continue to uncover the cause of the explosion.

Gas explosions like this one are grim reminders of the volatile nature of natural gas. It is incredibly important for property owners and natural gas providers to maintain gas lines, provide adequate maintenance, and ensure the safety of those nearby.

Below, the natural gas explosion lawyers at Kherkher Garcia discuss gas explosions, common causes, and who is responsible when injuries occur.

Gas Explosion at Chase Bank

Emergency responders swiftly arrived at the Chase Bank branch in Youngstown, where a gas explosion had ripped the façade off the building. Firefighters entered the unstable building to rescue trapped individuals. Officials say that the ground floor collapsed during the explosion, falling into the basement, which was flooded. Firefighters successfully evacuated everyone, including pulling people from apartments on the top floors.

Tragically, the body of Chase employee Akil Drake, who had been reported missing, was discovered on Wednesday. Mr. Drake had been seen in the basement of the building shortly before the explosion. Additionally, seven people were injured in the explosion. At least one person was critically injured and on a ventilator. Mercy Health reported that by Wednesday morning, three of the injured had been discharged from the hospital. Four others remained under medical care.

Security footage from a nearby building captured the explosion’s dramatic moment, showing a quiet street suddenly enveloped in a cloud of dust and debris. Emergency crews and responders worked diligently to secure the area and shut off gas for the entire block as a precautionary measure, as confirmed by Enbridge Gas Ohio.

The Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency issued a social media statement on Wednesday, advising the public to avoid the downtown area to allow emergency personnel to investigate and manage the situation. Several streets remained closed due to loose debris and ongoing assessments by officials. The Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office is leading an investigation into the explosion’s cause, alongside the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) team of pipeline and hazardous materials investigators. Currently, investigators believe that a cut gas line in the basement was the source of the explosion. The investigation is ongoing, however.

What Does the NTSB Team of Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigators Do?

The NTSB team of pipeline and hazardous materials investigators plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and integrity of the nation’s transportation systems, particularly concerning pipelines and hazardous materials. Their key responsibilities include:

  • Accident Investigation: When incidents involving pipelines or hazardous materials occur, the NTSB conducts thorough investigations. This includes analyzing the physical evidence, reviewing maintenance records, and interviewing witnesses.
  • Site Assessment: The team conducts on-site assessments of the accident scene to collect evidence, document conditions, and identify any immediate hazards. They may use advanced technology and forensic techniques to gather and analyze data.
  • Safety Recommendations: Based on their findings, the NTSB team issues safety recommendations to prevent future accidents. These recommendations can be directed to regulatory agencies, industry organizations, and other stakeholders involved in pipeline and hazardous materials transportation.
  • Regulatory Review: The team evaluates existing regulations and industry practices to identify potential weaknesses or areas for improvement. They may advocate for changes to enhance safety standards and regulatory compliance.
  • Public and Industry Communication: The NTSB team communicates its findings and recommendations to the public, government agencies, and industry stakeholders. This includes publishing detailed investigation reports and holding press conferences or public hearings.
  • Collaboration with Other Agencies: The team often collaborates with other federal, state, and local agencies. This may include the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and local emergency response teams. Together, these teams coordinate efforts and share information.
  • Training and Outreach: The NTSB team engages in training and outreach activities to educate industry professionals, emergency responders, and the public about best practices for pipeline and hazardous materials safety.

By performing these functions NTSB investigators help to enhance safety and reliability, mitigate risks, and prevent future accidents.

What are the Most Common Causes of Natural Gas Explosions?

Natural gas explosions can be catastrophic, leading to loss of life, injuries, and significant property damage. The most common causes of natural gas explosions include:

  • Gas Leaks: The primary cause of natural gas explosions is leaks in the gas lines or appliances. These leaks can occur due to corrosion, poor installation, damage from construction activities, or natural wear and tear.
  • Human Error: Mistakes made by homeowners, contractors, or utility workers, such as leaving a gas valve open or failing to properly shut off gas lines before performing maintenance, can result in dangerous gas accumulations.
  • Poor Maintenance: Inadequate maintenance of gas pipelines and related infrastructure can increase the risk of leaks and explosions. Regular inspections and timely repairs are crucial to prevent such incidents.
  • Faulty Appliances: Gas-powered appliances, such as stoves, water heaters, and furnaces, can develop faults over time. Malfunctioning valves, regulators, or burners can lead to gas leaks and subsequent explosions.
  • Improper Installation: Incorrect installation of gas lines or appliances can create conditions for leaks. This includes using improper materials, not securing connections tightly, or failing to follow safety guidelines.
  • Aging Infrastructure: Many urban areas have aging gas pipelines that may be more prone to leaks and ruptures. These older systems can deteriorate over time, increasing the risk of explosion. Over time, gas pipelines can corrode, especially if they are exposed to moisture or certain chemicals. Corrosion can weaken the pipes, causing leaks.

This list is not exhaustive. There are many factors that may contribute to gas explosions, including negligence and wrongdoing.

Who is Responsible for Injuries Caused by Natural Gas Explosions in Commercial Spaces?

Responsibility for injuries or deaths caused by natural gas explosions in commercial spaces can involve several parties, depending on the circumstances surrounding the explosion. The primary parties who may be held responsible include:

Property Owners and Landlords

Owners of commercial properties are generally responsible for maintaining a safe environment. This includes ensuring that gas lines, appliances, and related infrastructure are properly installed, maintained, and inspected. Failure to do so can result in liability for injuries caused by explosions.

Utility Companies

Natural gas utility companies are responsible for the safe delivery of gas to commercial properties. This includes maintaining and inspecting the gas pipelines up to the point of delivery. If an explosion is caused by a failure in the utility’s infrastructure or negligence in monitoring and maintaining the gas lines, the utility company may be held liable.

Contractors and Service Providers

Contractors who install, repair, or service gas lines and appliances in commercial spaces have a duty to perform their work to a professional standard. If an explosion results from faulty installation, repair, or maintenance work, the responsible contractor or service provider could be held liable.


If a natural gas explosion is caused by a defective product, such as a faulty appliance, the manufacturer of that product may be held responsible for any resulting injuries. This could be due to design defects, manufacturing flaws, or failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions.


In some cases, tenants of commercial spaces may be responsible for maintaining appliances and ensuring safe usage practices. If an explosion results from a tenant’s negligence, such as improper use of equipment or failure to report a known gas leak, the tenant may be liable for injuries.

Maintenance Companies

Companies contracted to perform regular maintenance on the building’s systems, including gas lines and appliances, can be held responsible if their negligence leads to an explosion.

Determining liability often requires a thorough investigation to establish the cause of the explosion and identify any negligence or breaches of duty. Legal proceedings may involve multiple parties, and liability may be shared among them depending on the specific details of the case. Victims of such explosions typically seek compensation through insurance claims, lawsuits, or settlements involving the responsible parties.

Get Help after a Gas Explosion Injury or Loss

If your family is suffering from injuries or loss of a loved one due to a natural gas explosion, consider exploring your rights and options. Depending on the circumstances of the incident and who is responsible, you may have grounds to seek compensation. The natural gas explosion lawyers at Kherkher Garcia can help you find out.

For more than 30 years, our team has provided support and legal guidance to victims of negligence and their families. We believe that those whose negligence causes harm to others should be held accountable. That’s why we fight for victims and their families to obtain justice and compensation.

If your family needs support and legal guidance, contact us for a free consultation. Our team can help you explore your legal rights and the options you may have for pursuing compensation. Get started by calling us at 713-333-1030, or by completing our confidential online form.



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Kevin Haynes

Kevin Haynes

Firm Partner and Trial Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Injury Trial Lawyer and Firm Partner Kevin Haynes. Kevin has been a practicing injury lawyer for more than 15 years. He has won $150 Million+ in Settlements and Verdicts for his clients. Kevin is powerful and effective in the courtroom and the trial lawyer you want on your side if you or a loved one have been seriously injured at work or on the road.

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