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Katowice. Explosion and collapse of the tenement house – presbytery of the Evangelical-Augsburg parish. Pastor: From the early hours of the morning you could smell gas

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As a result of the explosion and collapse of the building of the Evangelical-Augsburg parish in Katowice Szopienice, two people died. “It’s a shock and a shock for me,” says the parish priest. He describes that on a tragic Friday from the early hours of the morning he had information from the vicar that he smelled gas in the stairwell. They were to open the windows, turn off the main gas valve, occupants were to leave the building. – On that day, a specialist was called – said the clergyman.

On Friday, January 27, around 8.30 there was an explosion in the house at Bednorza Street in the Szopienice district of Katowice. It was the presbytery of the Evangelical-Augsburg Church. As a result of the explosion, half of the building collapsed.

Nine people were inside at the time of the explosion. Seven were saved. Four of them were hospitalized, including two children – daughters of the vicar of the parish, aged 3 and 5.

Unfortunately, two people died. This is a 69-year-old woman and her 41-year-old daughter. Their bodies were recovered from the rubble on Friday afternoon.

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The cause of the tragedy was most likely a gas explosion. The destroyed building was heated with gas from the municipal network, gas was also used for cooking.

Today, in an interview with TVN24 journalists, parish priest Adam Malina said that gas was smelled in the stairwell of the rectory on Friday morning.

Recording of damage in a tenement house in Katowice moments after the explosionLukasz Kosicki

They smelled gas in the stairwell since morning

She spoke with the parish priest of TVN24 before the Sunday mass in the church of the Evangelical-Augsburg parish in Lędziny. Malina admitted that he was not in Katowice at the time of the explosion.

He described what happened on Friday morning. “From the early hours of the morning, I received information from the vicar that there was definitely gas in the stairwell of our building. We quickly decided that we would take [wikariusz – red.] actions such as opening all possible windows, turn off the main gas valve and try to leave this building, also informing the others living there to do the same” – he reported.

He added that within a few minutes, “an expert was called to check if the gas was leaking. “Unfortunately, I learned from subsequent calls that there had been an explosion,” said the parish priest.

– There is fear and anger and guilt – what if we left earlier? And it is a pity, but on the other hand, we are lucky that we are alive, that we are in a relatively good condition – Jolanta Ucińska, the mother of the girls who suffered in the disaster, told TVN24 reporter yesterday.

Mom of the girls injured in the crash about the children's health

Mom of the girls injured in the crash about the children’s healthTVN24

Four families lost their livelihoods

The parish priest arrived on the spot several dozen minutes after the disaster. On Saturday, he learned from the poviat construction supervision inspector that the entire presbytery building was to be demolished. “The demolition work has started today,” he added.

With the help of the Katowice authorities, the parish took care to provide accommodation to people who were left without a roof over their heads.

– The Katowice diocese of the Evangelical Church helped us, and the parishioners also opened their homes. No one was left without shelter, Malina assured. He added that collections of money and items for the victims are underway. “Four families lost all their possessions,” said the priest.

A spokeswoman for the Katowice city hall, Sandra Hajduk, said that two people from among the residents of the destroyed building decided to take advantage of the city’s offer for housing and food. The rest chose places with their relatives.

Prosecutors’ investigation

On Friday, the District Prosecutor’s Office in Katowice launched an investigation into the explosion and the collapse of the presbytery of the Evangelical-Augsburg Church. On that day, the first witnesses were questioned. Monitoring from the crash site was secured, damaged cars were inspected.

From the morning of Friday, the prosecutor was at the scene; an expert in the field of construction and electrical and gas installations was also sent there. As it was signaled, after the end of the rescue operation and a positive decision of the construction supervision inspector regarding the possibility of performing the activities, the site of the disaster was to be inspected.

On Friday after 9 p.m., firefighters finished sorting through the rubble to check whether there were any more victims and handed over the area to the police. Construction supervision was on site on Saturday morning.

As the spokeswoman for the District Prosecutor’s Office in Katowice, Marta Zawada-Dybek, said on Saturday, the supervision inspectors agreed to a limited scope of investigative activities – due to security issues.

– The prosecutor started an inspection of the scene, but since we do not have the construction supervision inspector’s consent to enter the premises of the building itself, due to its technical condition – the risk of collapse – these inspections are limited to places where it is possible. The inspection is conducted by the prosecutor with the participation of an expert, Zawada-Dybek indicated.

For these reasons, it is difficult to predict how long and in what form the necessary inspections will last. At the same time, witnesses are being questioned; have already been heard injured people from the destroyed building (except for the injured man staying at the Burn Treatment Center in Siemianowice Śląskie).

The inspection of damage to the surrounding buildings and damage to cars was also completed. Autopsies of the victims of the disaster will take place in the coming days. – As for the findings, it is too early to say anything, we need to carry out the necessary activities, and due to their scope, it will certainly be a time-consuming investigation – Prosecutor Zawada-Dybek signaled.

On Sunday, the prosecutor said that he would provide further information on Monday.

– Bednorza Street is still closed to traffic due to the activities of the prosecutor’s office there – Łukasz Paździora from the press office of the Silesian police told us

Students of the school opposite will learn remotely

The explosion was so strong that windows and even entire windows were blown out in nearby houses. The special elementary school and food technical school, located in the building opposite the presbytery, suffered the most. There are 30 children in the elementary school and about 100 in the technical school. Fortunately, they were not in the building on Friday, because there were holidays in Silesia, which end on Monday, January 30. On this day, they will start learning remotely. Headmasters of nearby schools began to prepare places for them in their facilities on Friday. They will submit their bids on Monday.

Also on Friday, technicians from the Katowicki Zakład Gospodarki Mieszkaniowej started securing damaged school windows – temporarily, with wood-like boards. As construction specialists have signaled, repairs will be needed in both buildings: in the case of a special school, apart from the windows, the roof sheathing was damaged.

Four people are still in hospitals

Four people remain in hospitals: a man at the Burn Treatment Center in Siemianowice Śląskie (he is in stable condition) and two girls who are treated at the Upper Silesian Children’s Health Center in Katowice. The children have injuries to their limbs, head and minor burns.

Three other people who were in the building at the time of the explosion did not require hospitalization. One of them had an orthopedic injury, but left the hospital at her own request. Ukrainian families who also lived in the building were not affected.

Katowice.  The condition of people injured in the explosion

Katowice. The condition of people injured in the explosionTVN24

Main photo source: TVN24

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