Pottstown community unites to support family after deadly blast

"We are just trying to come to grips with it each and every day," said Mark Wood Sr., the grandfather of Alana Wood.

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Monday, May 30, 2022
Pottstown community unites to support family after deadly blast
A vigil was held on Sunday night for the victims killed in a house explosion in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

POTTSTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Five white votive candles sat on a small table with red and white roses behind them. The candles represent the five lives lost in a tragic house explosion in Pottstown.

The blast happened around 8 p.m. Thursday at a home in the 400 block of Hale Street.

Though neighbors report smelling gas in the area periodically, investigators have not identified a cause of the explosion which claimed the lives of 13-year-old Alana Wood, 12-year-old Jeremiah White, 10-year-old Nehemiah White and 8-year-old Tristan White. Their grandmother, 67-year-old Francine White, was also killed.

The explosion was so powerful that it destroyed the family's home and the residence next to it. Several other homes in the area were also severely damaged.

Pictured: 13-year-old Alana Wood, 12-year-old Jeremiah White, 10-year-old Nehemiah White and 8-year-old Tristan White.

"We are just trying to come to grips with it each and every day," said Mark Wood, Sr., the grandfather of Alana Wood.

Wood says his son, Alana's father, is coping with that tragic loss as best as he can.

"Her smile lit up everything! She always called me pop," Wood said of Alana. "It was the joy of my lifetime, my first granddaughter."

On Sunday night, a vigil was organized by local leaders and members of the faith community.

"We were on the scene immediately with our members who lived in the area. We were immediately responding," said Emanuel Wilkerson of the Pottstown NAACP, which has several members who were also impacted by the explosion.

SEE ALSO: Pottstown community grieves over loss of family in house explosion; cause still under investigation

More than 48 hours later, debris and rubble take over where the home once stood on Butler and Hale streets in Pottstown, Pa.

"This is about community and what we can do to help," said Rep. Joe Ciresi.

Faith leaders hope the vigil will help residents begin to heal.

"We are here for them. We're here for this family and we are here for this community," said Pastor Justin Valentine of Kingdom Life Church.

Monica Henderson attended the vigil with her daughter to show support for the victims.

"We're a community and we love one another," she said.

It was a sentiment that the family could feel at the vigil.

"We just want to say thank you. From the bottom of our hearts. We really, really appreciate it," said Satoria Martin, who identified herself as a cousin of the family as she addressed the crowd of hundreds of people.

SEE ALSO: Officials identify 5 killed in Pottstown house explosion; most were children

The cause of the explosion remains under investigation, and officials say it will "continue for some time."