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Queens Chronicle

Howard Beach fire sends 1 to hospital

Sandy-ravaged house’s gas line replaced days before incident

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Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:34 am, Thu Jun 6, 2013.

Days after repairs were made to a Howard Beach home’s gas line, it exploded, partially collapsing the house with its plume and sending one woman to the hospital, according to fire officials.

The house at 162-39 84 St. erupted into flames at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

“We heard a large tremendous boom,” a neighbor who wished to remain anonymous said. “When we looked outside a woman was hanging outside of her window.”

Theresa Pepitone, who lives there with her husband Joseph, was brought to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center with second degree burns on half of her body. She was then transferred to the Cornell Medical Center’s burn unit.

The neighbor said another longtime resident, John Dezago, pulled Pepitone out of the house. Responders arrived shortly after and were still on the scene at 4:30 p.m.

Joseph Pepitone arrived home about an hour after the explosion.

Rapid Repairs was green-lighted to replace the gas line on May 23, according to the Department of Buildings.

Pepitone’s house had a tree fall on it during Hurricane Irene and again sustained significant damage during Superstorm Sandy.

“He lost everything in Sandy,” the neighbor said. “It’s a shame. It’s just overwhelming.”

She said people in the neighborhood are shook up and nervous following the incident, about the work Rapid Repairs did on their homes.

“We all had our houses done after Sandy,” she said.

After Sandy the Pepitones brought home a German shepherd, which suffered burns during the fire.

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