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Couple escape Pennsylvania house explosion; fire crews, gas company officials investigating

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NORTH BRADDOCK, Pennsylvania — A man and his wife managed to escape an explosion that badly damaged their Pittsburgh-area home and knocked it off its foundation on Tuesday, but fire crews and utility workers couldn't immediately determine a cause.

Robert Kosko Jr., 62, told reporters outside his ruined North Braddock home that he was upstairs and his wife, Deborah, was in the basement when the explosion occurred shortly before 11 a.m.

"I'm still in shock," Kosko said. "We were in the house, we got out safely, but the house just folded in."

Peoples Natural Gas spokesman Barry Kukovich said crews were working with the Allegheny County fire marshal to ensure there were no gas leaks in the neighborhood and to determine whether a leak caused the explosion. That remained under investigation.

Peoples installed a new gas meter at the home on June 22 and did a safety check on the meter and the gas line to the home at that time, Kukovich said.

Kosko said he and his wife didn't smell gas before the blast blew out the front wall of their home, knocked a side wall off its foundation and blew debris into his yard and the street.

Kosko rushed downstairs through a ruined dining room and found that his wife had made her way into the kitchen amid the remnants of cabinet doors. Kosko used a cabinet door to break a window to escape through because the home's rear door was jammed, he said.

The couple said two of their three dogs escaped, but a third, along with three cats, were still believed to be in the home.

"Thank the Lord I'm talking to you about this," Kosko said.

North Braddock is about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, along the Monongahela River.

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