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    Wappingers Falls explosion: Mom, 2 young sons critically injured in gas line explosion


    WAPPINGERS FALLS, New York (WABC) — Families are coming together to help those who lost everything in a devastating house explosion and fire in Dutchess County this week.

    At least eight people are still in the hospital, including an 8-year-old boy who suffered burns to more than half of his body.

    The young boy, Elijah, his mother and 11-year-old brother all remain critically injured.

    Becky Malendes is like a mother to 35-year-old Shantelle Whyte and has been by her bedside.

    “She said there was no warning, no warning, just bing, bang, boom and everything was crumbling,” Maldnes said.

    The gas explosion Thursday collapsed part of a brick multifamily, trapping victims in the rubble and injuring 15 people.

    “I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve got 27 years as a volunteer fireman and chief. So I think they did a remarkable job,” Wappingers Falls Fire Chief Jason Enson told reporters at a briefing late Thursday.

    Eight adults and two children suffered blast or burn injuries. One child and two adults were flown by helicopter to Westchester Medical Center.

    One firefighter and four police officers who responded to the home also received medical treatment for minor injuries or exposure to smoke during the rescue operation.

    Officials said Central Hudson contractors were performing routine maintenance, replacing gas lines when they struck a 3/4-inch gas service line and the dig caused the explosion.

    While the investigation continues into exactly what went wrong, they said their priority is helping those impacted.

    “Today our concern primarily is with the residents and how they were impacted, that’s where our focus is and our goal is to provide them any immediate needs they have, and that may include lodging or food at this time,” said Joseph Jenkins

    Officials say the gas infrastructure in some of the homes date back to the 1930s or 1940s.

    (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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