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Blast at Former YWCA Still Under Investigation

By Staff Reports
The Tube City Almanac
September 28, 2022
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A team of investigators is still working to determine the cause of an Aug. 2 blast that heavily damaged the former YWCA of McKeesport on Ninth Avenue.

Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie M. Downs said Tuesday that city officials and the county fire marshal’s office will arrange a meeting at the scene with building tenants, the state Public Utility Commission and representatives of Peoples Gas to examine the structure and determine what parts are safe to enter.

According to witnesses and emergency officials, a contractor was using heavy equipment at the rear of the building to dig up a portion of the parking lot shortly before an explosion occurred.

The contractor, who has not been publicly identified, was working to construct a wheelchair-accessible ramp.

The structure, now known as the Common Ground Building, was unoccupied at the time, but two construction workers were hospitalized with injuries.

The blast shattered walls, windows and ceilings and forced the closure of the building for safety reasons, displacing the Ninth Street Clinic and a variety of start-up businesses hosted by Penn State University’s “LaunchBox.”

The Ninth Street Clinic is currently operating from space in the Painter Building at UPMC McKeesport hospital, while the LaunchBox tenants have been relocated to temporary space on Penn State’s Greater Allegheny Campus.

However, tenants have not been able to re-enter the building to salvage equipment and files.

Downs said a site and safety survey has been conducted by a structural engineer to determine what sections of the structure can be accessed for further investigation.

Originally published September 28, 2022.

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