FBI investigates after car explosion kills 1 at central street

The police join the members of the ATF and the FBI to work on a car park off North 7th Street in Allentown, Pa., hours after a fiery car explosion rocked the neighborhood on Saturday. The police confirmed that at least one victim and at least 50 investigators remain on the scene to wash the evidence. (Harry Fisher/The Morning Call via AP)

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – A car exploded on a downtown street, killing at least one person and that leads to a shelter-in-place order for nearby residents, and the federal authorities to help local officials in the investigation.

The explosion happened in Allentown around 9:30 pm Saturday, Deputy head of the Police Gail Struss said early Sunday.

“We can confirm that there is at least one victim,” she said in a statement. A press conference is scheduled on Sunday afternoon.

City and Lehigh County authorities investigate together with the federal police, the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

“There is not supposed to be any remaining threat to public safety, the FBI said in a message on Twitter. “We thank the residents of the area for their patience as the evidence is gathered and protected.”

Resident Carlos Perodin told The Morning Call of Allentown that he is watching a movie with his wife when he heard a thunderous explosion and went to the scene.

“The fire was crazy,” he said. “The car was pretty much split in half.”

Another witness to the aftermath of the explosion, Stephanie Connelly, told The Morning Call that she saw body parts strewn all over the street.

“This is real life and I’m shaking and freaking out while I,” she said.

A bus station was converted into a makeshift command center with armored vehicles, dozens of police cars, mobile command units, and even portable bathrooms, the paper reported. Various portable tents were also built for the proof of the processing.

Residents were asked to avoid the area, and the people who live nearby were asked to shelter in place. A shelter established at an elementary school.

The FBI previously said it was working with other agencies and “to assess the situation and determine the cause, the public safety, the bureau’s highest priority.” Officials asked anyone who witnessed the blast, or had information about how to contact the researchers.

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