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House Leveled, Baby Killed, Many Injured In Brentwood Explosion

Islip Officials: Home Repeatedly Cited For Code Violations; Cause Still Unknown
(credit: Carol D'Auria/1010 WINS)

(credit: Carol D’Auria/1010 WINS)

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BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A baby was killed and 14 people were injured in an explosion that reduced a house to rubble shortly after noon Tuesday in Brentwood.

The blast took place at Prospect Avenue and Eastern Avenue.

A family of three, including an 18-month-old baby boy, a plumber and an insurance inspector were inside at the time of the blast at 12 Prospect Drive, police said.

The baby — identified as Rah-quan Palmer — died.  The baby’s mother, 23-year-old Christina Morgan, and father, 28-year-old Rashamel Palmer, were also injured in the explosion and were seen leaving Southside Hospital later Tuesday.

WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall Reports From Brentwood


Also injured in the blast were 23-year-old Calvin Harris and 63-year-old Irving Justiniano. Both are also residents of 12 Prospect Drive.

The house was being repaired for water damage.

Plumber Michael Ray, 48, and State Farm representative Patricia Salegna-Maqueda, 46, were at the home regarding a claim submitted for flooding and were both seriously injured, Suffolk County Police said.

There is no natural gas pipeline in the area where the explosion occurred. It also appears natural gas was not used in that house or on the entire block, National Grid spokeswoman Wendy Ladd said. However, there were two 200-pound propane tanks at the house and those are being looked at for answers, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.

Town of Islip officials said they have repeatedly cited the home for code violations as an illegal multi-family dwelling and as an illegal rental. The owner was recently in court and entered a guilty plea, promising to make repairs, officials said.

Seven Suffolk County Police officers and two firefighters were injured and had to be treated at local hospitals before being released, authorities said.

Patricia Arnoth, 47, and her son, Michael Arnoth, 24, were also injured in the aftermath of the explosion. Both were treated at the hospital and released.

Anthony Acevedo lives nearby and said he felt the explosion shake his house. He ran out and saw a woman screaming.

“When they rescued her out of the rubble, she was like ‘Oh my God, my baby’s in there.  You have to get my baby out of there,’” Acevedo told 1010 WINS’ D’Auria.

1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria With More On The Story


“The house looked cluttered. There was definitely a mold situation, not the cleanest, but other than that it was livable,” restoration worker Frank Catalano told CBS 2′s Carolyn Gusoff.

Investigators spent the rest of Tuesday pouring over what’s left in an attempt to figure out what sparked the explosion.Bricks, roofing, wood and more were seen strewn about the area.

Police said they would be spending most of the night sifting through the rubble, looking for a cause.

“We’ll have to interview all the people involved in the house, who lived in the house, to find out exactly what was going on in there, and to go through all of the scene to see if there’s any physical evidence we can collect,” said Acting Suffolk County Police Chief John Meehan.

Some neighboring properties were showered with debris following the blast, including the property of a next-door neighbor, whose windows shattered.

The Red Cross also had personnel at the scene, assisting residents and providing water and snacks to those affected and first responders. The organization said it is ready to provide emergency housing for those who were displaced by the explosion.

Stay with CBSNewYork.com for continuing updates on this developing story…