Tyrone Council presents plaques to those who helped in house explosion

Local News

BLAIR COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ)– For their last meeting of 2021, Tyrone council deemed it essential to present plaques of honor Monday to individuals whose heroic actions saved others in the July 26 house explosion.

The explosion took place on 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue and took the life of 83-year-old Anna Hunsicker and sent five others to the hospital. But it was a tragedy that rocked the community forever.

Four individuals were presented with plaques; each represented their different roles in helping out. One of those plaques was made to Nate Verilla, who was in his office when the explosion occurred. He remembers running out to the scene to assist with pulling one victim out of the home.

Although Verilla is grateful that he’s receiving the plaque, he said that the community is known to unite when tragedy hits.

“One thing about Tyrone, it’s a real small community, but it’s a community,” Verilla said. “Everyone sticks together, and everyone helped out that day. Everyone jumped in. No hesitation. We came together that day.”

Alan Walls, the chief of the Neptune Fire Department, was handling the scene and managed over 200 people that day. He is honored to receive a plaque, but he doesn’t want to discredit the multiple people who assisted with the scene.

“Basically, it wasn’t only me,” Walls said. ” I had 200 and something firefighters here helping me and help guide me, and other things that needed to be done.”

However, both men called the explosion a point where the Tyrone community united the most. They each recognized the donations from outside communities and the support.

“The community came around during that time even beyond the community,” Walls said. “People from Altoona, Hollidaysburg everything, it was just remarkable how they helped out with everything.”

“It was an exceptional day for Tyrone to rise up,” Verilla said. “And for everyone to come together and help, especially in a situation like that when you don’t know what’s happening. Everyone was brave. Everyone had the courage to help in a time of need.”

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